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NEWS | June 6, 2016

Smith takes command of 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Col. E. Scott Smith takes command of the Virginia National Guard’s Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Col. William J. Coffin June 5, 2016, in a traditional change of command ceremony at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, the Virginia National Guard’s Assistant Adjutant General – Army, presided over the exchange of unit colors that represented the transfer of command from Coffin to Smith.

Smith currently serves full time as the state personnel officer for the Virginia National Guard, and he will transition to become the deputy U.S. Property and Fiscal Officer, succeeding Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Cree who has been selected as Harvard Fellow. He will command the brigade as a traditional Guard Soldier.

The 116th IBCT is authorized approximately 3,400 Soldiers and is the largest major command in the Virginia National Guard. The 116th has units throughout Virginia from Winchester to Pulaski along I-81, from Staunton to Virginia Beach along I-64, from Danville to Lynchburg to Warrenton along Route 29 as well as Fredericksburg, Manassas and Leesburg.

A brigade combat team is the basic deployable unit of maneuver in the U.S. Army and carries with it support units necessary to sustain its operations away from its parent division. The 116th consists of two infantry battalions, a cavalry squadron, a field artillery battalion, a brigade support battalion and brigade special troops battalion.

Smith is a graduate of the United State Military Academy and served on active duty prior to joining the Virginia National Guard. While on active duty, he served in the 10th Mountain Division as an infantry platoon leader, anti-tank platoon leader and battalion personnel officer. He was later assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division where he served as a brigade training officer, brigade personnel officer and mechanized infantry company commander. His last active duty assignment was as an advisor to the Hawaii National Guard while assigned to the 196th Training Support Brigade.

When Smith joined the Virginia National Guard, he served as the operations officer for the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team during the unit’s deployment to Afghanistan. After the deployment, he served as the battalion executive officer, and then was reassigned to be the executive officer for the Adjutant General of Virginia. He commanded the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Red Dragon, from February 2008 to March 2010. After command, Smith attended the U. S. Army War College and was subsequently assigned as the Virginia Army National Guard state personnel officer in 2012.

Coffin is a 1988 graduate of the United State Military Academy at West Point, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He attended West Point after an initial enlistment as a combat engineer serving in Germany. He has a Master of Science in Urban Systems Engineering from George Mason University, a Master of Military Arts and Sciences from the U. S. Army Command and Staff College, a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College and is a professional civil engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Coffin is a native of Malden, Mass., and currently resides in Staunton, Va.

He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned to the 23rd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Armored Division in Hanau, Germany and served as an assault and barrier platoon leader during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Coffin next served on active duty at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was on the battalion staff, commanded two different companies and deployed to Haiti in support of Operation Uphold Democracy. He also served as a company commander and battalion staff officer at Fort Belvoir. He left active duty in 1999 and joined the National Guard as a member of the Active Guard and Reserve program.

After an initial tour at National Guard Bureau, Coffin was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division and then served as the executive officer and commander of the Fredericksburg-based 229th Engineer Battalion. While in command, he transformed the 229th to the 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion. He next served as the operations officer for the 116th IBCT and mobilized with the 116th as the executive officer during the brigade headquarters deployment to Iraq. He later served as the deputy brigade commander before his reassignment as the Virginia National Guard G1 personnel officer. He served as the chief of staff for the 29th Infantry Division before he took command of the 116th on July 1, 2014.

The Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band provided ceremonial music for the event.

View photos from the change of command ceremony on Flickr:

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