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New unit moving to Cumming armory
560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade officially deactivated
Gravitt web
Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt receives a certificate of appreciation from Col. Jeffrey Dickerson, commander of the Georgia Army National Guard's Cumming-based 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. The brigade was officially deactivated during a ceremony on Saturday, and will be replaced by the 3rd Battalion, 121st Infantry. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

CUMMING -- A new unit of the Georgia Army National Guard will be headquartered in Cumming.

On Saturday, the 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade of the Georgia Army National Guard was officially deactivated during a ceremony at the Cumming Regional Readiness Center, where the unit had operated since the center opened in 2013. The 3rd Battalion, 121st Infantry will now use the center.

The 560th brigade was the first of its type in the National Guard and was tasked with gathering information and supporting forces.

“Essentially, their role was a modular force that did intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Carden, commander of the Georgia Army National Guard.

The unit served across the world including, Malaysia, South Korea, Uganda, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

“Its history is short. It was formed in 2007. But in that short time frame this unit has done a lot,” said Capt. William Carraway, a military historian. “They essentially wrote the book on what a battlefield surveillance brigade mission was going to look like for the army.”

Carden, who was formerly a commander of the 560th, said the Army wanted to move away from such units and being a new force also played into the decision to deactivate.

“They were kind of some of the newest force structure the Army had,” he said. “It’s just like when you hire an employee: first one in, first one out.”

The new unit is currently doing annual training at Fort Stewart and is starting to move in.

“You look through time, and the one constant is change. The Army adapts to it by changing its force structure, changing its allocation,” Carraway said.

Carraway said local responses from the center, such as help during severe winter storms, will continue.

Though the change will hardly appear different for residents, it does mean more supplies and people.

“That facility that we built in Cumming was a brand new armory, and it was designed for a command and control type headquarters,” Carden said. “We [added to] a battalion-sized unit to support the 48th Infantry Brigade.

"You’ve actually got more soldiers assigned to that facility today than when the 560th was there.”

Carden said he hopes the new unit will have the same relationship with the community as their predecessors.

“Cumming and Forsyth County, we get great support. We couldn’t ask for more support than we get from the local community,” he said. “There’s never been a time since we’ve been in the community when we had something that we didn’t have an outpouring of support.”