by Major William Carraway, Georgia National Guard
Colonel Matthew Smith relinquished command of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) to Col. Anthony Fournier during a ceremony at the Macon Readiness Center on December 7, 2019.
Smith, who led the brigade since December 2016, passed the 48th IBCT colors to Fournier, signifying the official transfer of power for the 48th IBCT Volunteers, an organization of more than 4,000 Georgia Guardsmen. Smith’s tour of command culminated with the successful deployment of the 48th to Afghanistan in 2019. It was the brigade’s fourth overseas combat deployment since September 11, 2001.
Smith led the 48th through a period of transition and increased partnership with the 3rd Infantry Division (ID). Assuming command just six months into the brigade’s associated unit pilot with the 3rd ID, Smith integrated the IBCT training with the Fort Stewart-based division. From June 5 to 25, 2017, the Volunteers endured extreme temperatures and long training days in the humid fields of Fort Stewart during an eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise. A joint command post training exercise held at Fort Stewart in April 2018 further cemented the relationship between the 48th IBCT and 3rd ID before the brigade headed to Fort Polk, Louisiana. for a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center. The 48th returned to Fort Stewart for pre-mobilization training and its first elements began to deploy to Afghanistan from Hunter Army Airfield in December. By the end of January, the brigade had completed the transfer of authority for its new mission and served for the next six months before returning to Fort Stewart in July.
Following the change of command ceremony, Smith was promoted to brigadier general. His next assignment is as the Deputy Director of Operations, Readiness and Mobilization, Headquarters, Department of the Army.
Fournier has served more than 30 years in the Georgia National Guard. Fournier enlisted as a private in 1989 and commissioned through the Georgia Military Institute’s Officer Candidate School in 1994 as an infantry lieutenant. He served as a platoon leader in the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment and in Troop E, 108th Cavalry, both of the 48th Infantry Brigade. In 2000, he deployed to Bosnia as the executive officer of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment. Upon returning from Bosnia, Fournier assumed command of Company C, 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment and lead the company through the 2005-2006 deployment to Iraq. Fournier also deployed to Afghanistan with the 48th IBCT, serving as the chief of operations for Task Force Phoenix, which consisted of more than 11,000 Soldiers from 27 countries, charged with training the Afghan Army, Police, and Border Police. From 2012 to 2015, Fournier commanded the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment. In 2014, Fournier deployed to Guatemala as the task force commander of a joint, interagency, multinational training team, charged with training a specialized Guatemalan unit in combating transnational organized crime. In his most recent assignments, Fournier served as Chief of Future Operations and then Chief of Exercise Branch for U.S. Army Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany in 2018 and 2019.
The 48th IBCT is comprised of units, with its history and battle honors predating the American Revolution. Its colors bear the campaign streamers of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Seminole War, both World Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. The list of commanders for the 48th IBCT encompass those of the 48th Infantry Division (1946 to 1955); 48th Armor Division (1956 to 1968); 3rd Brigade, 30th Infantry Division (1968-1973) and the 48th Brigade (1973 to present).