Story by 1LT Daniel Johnson on 04/19/2017FORT CAMPBELL, KY - 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team held a change of responsibility ceremony April 18 in which outgoing commander Lt. Col. Ryan Wylie relinquished duties to incoming commander Lt. Col. Keith Carter. Wylie was the first commander of 1-26 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and led the unit on its first deployment in the unit's history as part of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), where they supported Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq.
Historically a unit in the 1st Infantry Division, 1-26 was moved from Fort Knox, Kentucky, to Fort Campbell as part of the Army's BCT 2020 concept. Wiley commanded the Blue Spader battalion since its reactivation into the 101st Airborne Division in April of 2015.
Upon its reactivation at Fort Campbell, 1-26 became the oldest battalion in the 101st Airborne Division. Already a storied unit with accomplishments that stretch back to the Philippine insurrection in 1901, 1-26 saw many additional achievements during Wylie's time in command.
"Anyone who served alongside Ryan Wylie knows he is an inspiring leader," said Col. Brett Sylvia, commander of 2BCT. "In charge of building 1-26 from scratch, Ryan was the right leader at the right time to man, equip, and train this unit for a full range of missions. It takes an extraordinary leader to overcome inertia and take a unit from an idea to a fully trained and ready to deploy unit in just one year."
The battalion had an intense training schedule which included multiple Eagle Flights, Fort Campbell's name for squad and platoon live fire exercises, two JRTC rotations, air assault training at Fort Knox, and advise and assist training before they deployed.
During OIR, the Blue Spaders played an integral role in supporting the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve effort. Their missions included advising the Baghdad Operations Command, helping to establish the critical airfield at Qayyarah West, and protecting coalition forces throughout the Iraq area of operations. By the end of the deployment, Soldiers from 1-26 made up the largest contingent of 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Iraq. Parts of the unit had even pushed as far as the outskirts of Mosul alongside the elite Iraqi counter-terrorism services.
"It was Ryan's leadership that inspired this organization to operate in combat across the entire spectrum of conflict," said Sylvia. "To go from activation to being the largest deployed element in the brigade in just over a year is a tremendous compliment to the inspiring leadership of Ryan, and the tenacity of the Blue Spaders."
Wylie is proud of what he and the Blue Spaders accomplished during his tenure there. During his remarks he honored the Soldiers and their professionalism.
"The battalion was created (here) for a tangible purpose," said Wylie. "To develop air assault expertise as one of nine air assault battalions in the United States Army and to deploy with the brigade to Iraq. This clarity of purpose formed our identityThe battalion's accomplishments over the past two years are the results of the dedication, determination, and expertise of the battalion's leaders and Soldiers, all of whom who had a vested interest in the unit's success."
Carter, the incoming commander, spoke on the need of the battalion to continue to the great tradition they had established at Fort Campbell. The unit has already began another intensive training cycle, and their skills could be called upon on a moment's notice.
"On the field before me stands courageous warriors ready to defend the nation," said Carter. "I know that Blue Spaders will always do the right thing and that they will exemplify extraordinary military discipline. As a team, we can accomplish any missionTo any adversary thinking about threatening the security of this great nation, or that of our allies, know that the Blue Spaders will be ready when the nation calls. We are Strike Soldiers, we fight where we are told, and win where we fight."