By Staff Sgt. Christopher Jackson
209th Digital Liaison Detachment
WACKERNHEIM, Germany – Soldiers from the 209th Digital Liaison Detachment welcomed new unit leadership during a July 19 ceremony that highlighted their unique role supporting NATO and U.S. Army Europe.
During the ceremony, held amid coronavirus restrictions at the McCully Barracks gymnasium, Col. Stephen Case relinquished command to Col. Frank Suyak. Case took part in the ceremony remotely, from Alabama.
“This is a unique mission, one that is extremely important in the European Theater, and one that has been entrusted to only two Reserve units under USAREUR,” Case said. “When employed properly, this tactical size unit delivers strategic effects.”
The detachment, headquartered at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, is part of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 7th Mission Support Command and serves in direct support to USAREUR. Col. Douglas LeVien, 7th MSC commander, presided over the event.
“There is a lot of sacrifice that goes on in this endeavor from the Reserve component and the 209th,” LeVien said while speaking about time outside regular duty hours that Army Reserve leaders give to their units. “We all know it is not just one weekend a month, especially for a Col. Case or if you are a senior NCO or senior officer.”
Suyak most recently served as commander of the 361st Theater Public Affairs Support Element at Fort Totten, New York. An Iraq war veteran, who calls Berlin home, Suyak served in many leadership and staff positions within the U.S. Army Reserve in Europe. Case delivered his speech via video teleconferencing, with his family by his side.
“As much as it pains me to leave this team, I am confident that I am passing the baton into competent hands,” said Case, who offered words of wisdom to Suyak. “It will take a bit of work getting to know the complexities of the systems. I know you are ready for the task.”
Soldiers from the 209th are integrators between U.S. forces and coalition armies, a key asset to wartime readiness and capability within the European theater. The unit prepares for its wartime role by coordinating and training with leaders from partner militaries in Europe.
“We are the hinge pin between all U.S. forces and our NATO allies when it comes to the personnel interaction, digital and communication capabilities,” said Master Sgt. David Donovan, the 209th DLD’s senior non-commissioned officer. “We provide shared understanding of the battle space.”
Most recently, the unit trained with NATO Multi-National Brigade Southeast, NATO Multi-National Corps Northeast, and Poland’s 12th Mechanized Brigade. Soldiers from the 209th integrate directly with partner nation’s militaries, to include life support and lodging.
“Our Army Reserve Soldiers bring a wide depth of civilian skills to every mission, a myriad of civilian capabilities,” Donovan said.
Under Case’s leadership, the unit also supported Saber Guardian, a large-scale European military exercise, as USAREUR’s primary coalition liaison capability. As a result of that effort, plus considerable coordination with USAREUR planners, the 209th became an integral part of all USAREUR operational planning. During his tenure, Case transformed the unit in the areas of personnel, equipment, and training readiness. He also created an atmosphere of soldiering and a pride of unit mission, according to his Legion of Merit award citation. Case was also recognized for his support to 21st Theater Sustainment Command for his effort in finding a digital solution to improve theater-wide logistics between U.S. and coalition partners.
In Sgt. Philip Paul’s nine years with the detachment, the Oklahoma-native served under five commanders. Case was one of the best, he said.
“Col. Case really elevated the unit to what it is now within USAREUR,” Paul said. “Every year we work with Romanians, Polish, Germans and British forces. To be this asset and work with our NATO partners is an incredible experience.”