1st Brigade Combat Team returning to Fort Stewart

Even though the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team still has a few more weeks left on its deployment to Iraq, one brigade in the 3rd Infantry Division is heading home.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team, commanded by former 3rd Brigade battalion commander Col. John Charlton, completed nearly 15 months of service in al Anbar province, casing its colors last week at Camp Ramadi and is in the process of returning to its Fort Stewart home base.

During its tour, the "Raider Brigade" is credited with transforming Ramadi from a hotbed of terrorist violence to a city of relative tranquility. Within six weeks of arriving in al Anbar, the Raider Brigade drove out al-Qaeda in Iraq from the region and Ramadi has since experienced more than 290 days of peace.

Under Charlton's leadership, the Raider Brigade completed projects totaling more than $87 million. In partnership with the United States Agency for International Development and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 85 projects directly impacting safety, health and welfare of Ramadi residents were completed.

Numerous microgrants valued at $2,500 each were given to local entrepreneurs to boost small business ownership.

"These focused revitalization efforts are setting the conditions for future economic growth and prosperity," Charlton said.

An advance party of 3rd Brigade soldiers is expected to arrive back at Fort Benning in mid-April with the remainder of the brigade due back a month later.