Sgt. David Edge
4th Brigade Combat Team Journalist
FORT POLK, La. – Col. Mario Diaz passed the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI)’s colors to Col. Guy Jones during a change of command ceremony held on Thursday at Warrior Field.
Diaz took command of the Patriot Brigade on Dec. 11, 2011, shortly after the Soldiers returned from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
Under Diaz’s command, 4th BCT sent Soldiers to the Steppe Eagle Exercise in Kazakhstan to help train the Kazakh Army and to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., to help train cadets, and deployed to Afghanistan for eight months as a Security Force Assistance Brigade.
Diaz gave four tasks to all of the brigade’s Soldiers when he assumed command.
“I first told them I wanted them to think. In this complex world we live in, every Soldier in this brigade, from private to colonel, must engage their minds.
“The second thing I asked them to do was move, by foot, by vehicle, by air to get where you need to be and lead,” he continued. “The third thing I ask them to do was fight, never forget why America has brigade combat teams, to close and engage the enemies.
“The last standing order I gave the Soldiers was to do what’s right,” an emotional Diaz said.
Diaz quoted the famous UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, when emphasizing the importance of teamwork across the BCT.
“‘Selfless teamwork is great teamwork, and a player that selflessly makes a team great is much more valuable than a great player,’” Diaz said.
“These words not only relate to basketball,” the colonel explained, “but I believe they have a direct correlation to an effective organizational leadership climate and (it) is part of the approach that I have shared with my overall leadership philosophy.”
The Diaz Family is going on to the Pentagon, where the colonel will serve as military assistant to the under secretary of defense for foreign policy.
Brig. Gen. Michael L. Howard, 10th Mountain Division (LI) acting senior commander, served as senior commander for the ceremony. In his advice to Jones, he quoted retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Julius Gates, who was present for the ceremony.
“One of the strengths of our great Army is the unique ability of our Soldiers to rise to the occasion and get the job done; during peace or war, they get the job done. All you have to do is lead them.”
Jones comes to 4th BCT from the U.S. Army War College and the 82nd Airborne Division.
He thanked special visitors who helped him throughout his career and finished his speech by emphasizing the BCT’s unity and focus.
“We are now one team, and we will define our purpose collectively and get after it in all our assigned tasks and missions,” said Jones. “We will keep focus on three areas: our mission, each other and our Families.”
He went on to stress the importance of the brigade’s ability to answer the nation’s call with the help of the community.
“We must always be ready, by ‘living on amber,’” Jones said. “We will learn from each other and take care of each other, supported by the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk and the surrounding communities.”
Jones said he expects the Patriot Soldiers to continue their high standards of conduct.
“We will be Soldiers of honorable character; these will be our watch words and will define the culture of our team,” he concluded.