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643rd RSG changes leadership

By Capt. Sean Delpech | 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command | April 21, 2016

April 19, 2016 — WHITEHALL, Ohio — The guidon for the Army Reserve’s 643rd Regional Support Group, 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) was handed to a new commander at a change-of-command ceremony held April 9, at the unit's Whitehall, Ohio, Army Reserve Center headquarters. 

Incoming commander, Col. Stephen R. Smith exchanged the 643rd Regional Support Group guidon with outgoing commander Col. William J. McLaen. In a ceremony attended by friends and family, both commanders shared highlights brought on by the occasion.

Brig. Gen. Vincent B. Barker, commanding general of the 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), presided over the ceremony and served as the continuity of leadership between the outgoing and incoming commanders during the symbolic passing of the colors.  

Barker began his remarks with a favorable overview of McLaen’s accomplishments as RSG commander. Barker also welcomed Smith, sharing with the audience that the HHC is transitioning into capable hands.

McLaen, who had served as the 643rd RSG commander for the past two years, paid tribute to the regional support group’s Soldiers and civilians who have made it successful.

Smith took command of the 643rd RSG acknowledging the complex world we live in and the necessity of having an Army Reserve which is ready to answer the nation’s call whenever needed.

Smith enlisted in the Army Reserves in 1984, reaching the rank of Sergeant, before commissioning through the University of Georgia ROTC program in 1990, and graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Geography.  

His military education includes the Primary Leadership Development Course, the Quartermaster Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Multifunctional Combat Service Support Course, the Combined Arms Services and Staff School, and the Intermediate Level Education/Command and General Staff College.  

Prior to his selection as the Commander of the 643rd RSG, Smith served as the Chief of Staff for the 310th ESC in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Assistant Chief of Staff, G3 from 2014 to October 2015 during the unit’s mobilization to Fort Hood as the senior logistics headquarters for III Corps. 

He served as the Deputy Commander for the 642nd Regional Support Group, based in Decatur, Georgia, and deployed with the 365th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion from Jackson, Mississippi, as their Battalion Commander in Regional Command West-Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

Previously with the 642nd RSG, Smith served in concurrent positions as the Deputy Commander, the Group’s S3 (operations), and as the acting Supervisory Staff Administrator from 2007 to 2011.  He also deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan with the Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan (143rd ESC), in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, to serve in the G3 as Deputy Chief of Operations and Joint Operations Center officer in charge.

Other assignments include serving as Unit Collective Training Officer for the 81st Regional Support Command (Birmingham, Alabama); Operations Officer for the Garrison Support Unit (Fort Dix, New Jersey); Executive Officer for Third Army’s Special Troops Battalion and Commander for the Third Army Augmentation Unit (Fort McPherson, Georgia); Mobilization Officer for Combined Forces Land Component Command (multiple locations of Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Qatar) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF); the HHD Commander, Supply and Services Officer, Acting Support Operations Officer, S1, and Plans Officer of the 352d Corps Support Battalion (Macon, Georgia); and Platoon Leader for both the 802d Quartermaster Company (Force Provider) (Columbus, Georgia) and the 421st Quartermaster Company (Air Drop Supply) (Fort Valley, Georgia).

Smith has received multiple awards and decorations, including the Bronze Star Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Meritorious Service Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Medal (four Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Achievement Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Afghanistan Campaign Medal (with four Service Stars), the Iraqi Campaign Medal (with one Service Star), the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-International Security and Assistance Force Medal (two Service Stars), the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Army Superior Unit Award, a Meritorious Unit Citation, and the Combat Action Badge.

For organizational awards, he has attained the Distinguished Order of Saint Martin, the Noble Patron of Armor, and the Order of the Golden Spur.

Smith concluded his remarks by making clear that the 643rd RSG’s true focus will remain enabling the U.S. Army Reserve to meet America’s requirements at home and abroad.