It was a ceremonial farewell at Fort Drum Thursday for the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

It's being deactivated because of military downsizing.

There were 3,500 soldiers in the brigade. About 1,500 will remain with the 10th, but the others will be transferred to other Army divisions.

"We just couldn't afford to lose all these great soldiers," Brig. Gen. Michael Howard said at the ceremony, "and since we're keeping them, the Spartans will continue to help make the division strong for years to come."

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team has played a major role in Afghanistan. It  deployed there four times over the past decade.