The Army is moving quickly to change commanders of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade fresh from a year of hard duty in southern Afghanistan.
Col. Harry D. Tunnell, IV, will relinquish command of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Thursday morning as part of a “welcome home” and uncasing of the colors ceremony at the local base. Also during the event at Watkins Field, a Silver Star medal will be presented to one soldier, and injured and wounded soldiers will ceremonially reunite with the brigade.
Taking command of the 4,000-member brigade is Col. Barry F. Huggins, who is well known in Stryker circles and at Lewis-McChord.
Huggins deployed to Iraq twice with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, the Army’s original Stryker brigade – first, in 2003, as the brigade’s executive officer, and second, in 2006, as an infantry battalion commander. He returns to Lewis-McChord from the National Defense University in Washington D.C.
Tunnell has led the 5th Stryker Brigade since its activation at Lewis-McChord on May 4, 2007. He drew a tough assignment as commander of the first of the Army’s seven Stryker brigades to deploy to Afghanistan.
The Army switched the unit’s mission from Iraq to Afghanistan well into its training schedule, and it arrived as violence in the south of the country was heating up. A reported 37 soldiers died during the deployment, mostly from roadside bombs. Some of Tunnell’s soldiers were openly critical; a January article in the Army Times revealed dissatisfaction with leadership’s application of counterinsurgency strategy.
Tunnell moves on to the U.S. Army Accessions Command at Fort Knox, Ky.