GRAFENWOEHR, Germany –
Lt. Col. Clifton C. Kyle assumed command of the Army Reserve's 457th Civil Affairs Battalion from Lt. Col. Carlos E. Gorbea during a May 7 ceremony at the Field House on Tower Barracks at United States Army Garrison Bavaria.
Col. John T. Novak, commander of the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, the 457th's higher headquarters, officiated the event.
The ceremony was also attended by Brig. Gen. Stephen W. Ainsworth, the commander of the 7th Mission Support Command, the Soldiers of the 457th Civil Affairs battalion, family members and dignitaries from the German Bundeswehr.
In his opening remarks, Novak stressed the importance of the civil affairs mission, praised Gorbea's past leadership and welcomed Kyle to his new assignment.
"A combat multiplier for every commander, civil affairs forces are a primary resource every commander has to assist him or her in dealing with the complex and ever-changing civil component of the operational environment," he said.
Novak emphasized that the linguistic talents and the varied professional civilian backgrounds of the battalion's Army Reserve Soldiers continue to provide essential support for military operations in the field.
"For example, the 457th CA Battalion completed more than 111 Theater Security Cooperation events in the last five years, provided numerous Instructors to support the NATO CMIC center of excellence, and is poised to support the largest civil affairs participation ever in a United States Army Europe exercise - Saber Guardian 17 - this summer," he said.
"Dispersed across the battlefield, they must operate independently," said Novak of the methods the Soldiers use to engage civilian populations during operations in foreign countries.
"To do so they must remain tactically and technically proficient, all connecting in small teams in remote locations," he said. "The key to their success is in empowering junior leaders."
Novak specifically praised Gorbea for his successes leading the 457th for the last two years, calling him "a true, quiet, selfless professional," and adding Gorbea was selected for early promotion to colonel and a senior service college assignment to Washington, D.C.
Kyle has served as an infantry rifle platoon leader and company executive officer in combat, worked as an assistant G3 in Korea, and been an observer controller/trainer with the 75th Battle Command Training Division in Houston, Texas, Novak said.
Kyle also is a seasoned civil affairs officer, he added.
In his farewell remarks to his Soldiers, Gorbea openly displayed emotion and also thanked his Bundeswehr colleagues in both English and German for their strong support and partnership in Germany.
Gorbea tied the battalion's accomplishments to recent events in Europe and the Army's continued commitment to the NATO alliance, which Gorbea emphasized was more important than ever.
"Our work together renovating an orphanage in Lithuania and a kindergarten in Bulgaria, placed our Soldiers on the front lines of countering the Russian hybrid threat through civil military cooperation and progress," said Gorbea.
Gorbea also mentioned how his family has always supported his chosen profession.
"I'm extremely proud of you, you have sacrificed in my absence during deployment, exercises … I've missed birthdays, weekends, anniversaries and much more," Gorbea said to his family.
In his first words to his new unit, Kyle also took the opportunity to thank his wife, Karen Elizabeth, and their four daughters who missed an entire week of school in Houston, Texas to attend the event in Germany.
"Do not worry, your mother and I have arranged for all your tests, assignments and quizzes to be waiting for you," Kyle said.
He spoke to his new Soldiers as well.
"To the Soldiers, the non-commissioned Officers, and Officers of the 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, I recognize that I am new to the unit, but the unit is not new," he said.
The unit is well known throughout the Army, he added, and is an important contributor to the multinational military exercise Saber Guardian in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.
"Without a doubt, the Soldiers have excelled in every aspect of civil affairs operations by cultivating a culture of excellence," Kyle said.
He urged the Soldiers to continue to move from good to great.
"Let's continue to create opportunities in support of this great nation," Kyle said.