CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq -- Lieutenant Col. Richard A. Deforest relinquished command of 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion to Lt. Col. Austin E. Renforth in a ceremony here July 5.
Deforest, who commanded the Marines and Sailors of 2nd LAR for two years, passed the battle colors to Renforth in a short ceremony as the sun rose over Western Iraq.
“It is great. Any time you get the honor and privilege of commanding a battalion you certainly take advantage of it. I feel really good about the Marine Corps having the confidence in me to take over an infantry battalion,” Renforth stated.
Renforth is no stranger to being deployed to Iraq. He served as the operations officer of Regimental Combat Team-1 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I plan to take care of the Marines to the best of my abilities and fight and win battles,” Renforth said.
The battalion’s new commanding officer looks forward to taking over where Deforest left off on this deployment and is impressed with the Marines he will be commanding.
“He did a fantastic job. He left a top-notch team here for me to take over and it makes it a lot easier to follow a guy who has done a great job like he has,” he said.
“I’m impressed with the Marines out here. I think morale is high, they are certainly working very hard and are not letting themselves get complacent. These guys are very driven and they want to do the right thing,”
Renforth knows that leading Marines in Iraq is much more difficult than leading them in the States.
“Out here it is life or death in many cases. Back home it is training, always training,” Renforth explained. “You try to replicate how it would feel, but you can’t replicate people actually shooting at you. You have to be on your guard. You can never let it down.”
He knows what his job is in keeping his Marines combat ready though.
“My job is to create an environment for these guys to succeed and to do the best they can,” Renforth stated.