Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth A. Foss
1st Brigade Combat Team PAO NCOIC
The outgoing commander of the Warrior Brigade called the Soldiers to attention for his last time. The battle cry – “Warriors!” – shook the walls of the gymnasium. There was no doubt the incoming commander would lead a group of highly motivated and capable Soldiers.
Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), held a change of command ceremony Friday at Magrath Sports Complex to transfer command of the brigade from Col. Stephen L.A. Michael to Col. Frederick "Mark" O'Donnell.
Michael led the brigade for more than 30 arduous months, to include a rotation to the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., where Soldiers trained for their mission in Afghanistan. Michael successfully led the Soldiers through this deployment, where the brigade's main focus was advising and assisting Afghan National Security Forces throughout Ghazni Province, as well as the retrograde of billions of dollars’ worth of equipment that has been being used within the country over the last 12 years.
His adaptive leadership abilities were crucial in successfully completing this unique mission.
“Warriors, today is about you. I salute you and pass on to you my eternal gratitude; you got it done,” Michael said.
“Whether it was back here in the United States or forward deployed in Afghanistan in combat, you, Soldiers, leaders, noncommissioned officers and commanders at the company and battalion level, it was you,” he said. “So, I stand here not on my own strength; there is nothing I have accomplished that has been of my own accord.”
Michael spoke his words of gratitude as he addressed the Warriors for one last time before handing command over to O’Donnell.
“The Army has chosen wisely, and I could think of none better in whom to pass the torch to lead this brigade for what comes next,” Michael said.
Michael left the podium and shook his replacement’s hand with confidence in his abilities.
“There are many other more talented and capable leaders that could be taking command today; there is nobody that is more motivated or more excited to lead the men and women of 1st Brigade than I am today,” O’Donnell said.
O'Donnell is no stranger to the North Country. He commanded 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, from 2007 to 2010, leading the Soldiers on their deployment to the Konar Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“This patch, the 10th Mountain patch, means a lot to me. The opportunity to return to it and be a part of it is something that is really special to all of us (the O’Donnell Family),” the new commander said.
O’Donnell also has served as commander of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. In 2011, O'Donnell served as deputy commanding officer of 75th Ranger Regi-
He has deployed six times to Iraq and Afghanistan, most recently, as commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force, responsible for conducting counter-terrorism operations across all four regional commands within Afghanistan. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience that will surely take the Warrior Brigade to the next level.
“I have a lot of experience. I have a lot of experience here at Fort Drum in the 10th Mountain Division and with other conventional units and special operations forces. I think the collective leadership here is prepared for any crisis that could present itself across the globe,” O’Donnell said.
“The next year is full of interesting challenges, but I can assure you the brigade will always be up to the task and will handle every challenge with competence and quiet professionalism,” he said.
Every battalion within 1st Brigade Combat Team has undergone a change of command over the last two months. These highly motivated and experienced commanders now lead the charge in the way ahead.