KANSAS CITY, MO, UNITED STATES –
Army Reserve Soldiers of the 209th Regional Support Group, 76th Operational Response Command, officially welcomed a new commander here August 10, during a change of command ceremony held at the unit headquarters.
During the ceremony, Col. Christina Garamond, who has been in command of the nearly 2400 personnel unit for the past two years, officially passed that responsibility to incoming commander Col. Paul V. Miller.
“Command in general, and brigade command in particular is an awesome responsibility that is as taxing as it is challenging,” said Brig. Gen. Doug Cherry, guest of honor for the ceremony and deputy commanding general, 76th Operational Response Command. “Over the past two years Col. Garamond has done everything we have asked of her, everything her Nation and her Army has asked of her, and her Soldiers and her units are better for having had her as a commander.”
Cherry went on to laude some of the unit’s achievements under Garamond’s leadership. “During your tenure of command, the 209th RSG supported Task Force 76 for our Nation’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear enterprise; a role that put your headquarters on a 96-hour notice to be prepared to respond to America’s worst day,” he said. “Your brigade ran a division wide platform gunnery exercise and you prepared and deployed units into the Central Command area of operations. You did these things while simultaneously preparing your headquarters and subordinate units for their wartime mission. For everything you have done and sacrificed, we thank you and I personally thank you.”
Cherry then turned his focus to the incoming commander. “Paul, today you assume the mantle of command,” he said. “You have done all the things necessary to prepare for this moment, but nothing fully prepares you for the crucible that is command. Today I charge you with the authority and responsibility of command of the 209th Regional Support Group. My challenge to you is to lead your Soldiers with dignity and respect, set the example in all you do, execute the hard right, and prepare your Soldiers for war and bring them home again.”
Once Cherry finished speaking, Garamond stepped up to the podium and began by thanking those who have helped her along the way. “The completion of my command would not have been possible without those around me,” she said. “To my staff and headquarters thank you for all the times you have supported me and found ways to make things happen.”
Garamond also talked about the history of a change of command ceremony and highlighted that it’s much more than just changing unit commanders. “Today’s ceremony is a demonstration of discipline, strength and loyalty of the unit itself,” she said. “It may seem like it’s about me and Col. Miller, but it’s very much about the 209th. I present to you today an organization that I am proud to have trained with, laughed and cried with, broke bread with, commiserated and grown with, and by all means an organization I would not hesitate to take to war.’
“While the unit may not have made the history books over the last two years, we have become a part of each others history,” she said. “We have expanded our professional connections and developed friendships. We have learned and grown together, developed leaders and future leaders, mentored, coached and supported each other. Sometimes it’s more important to recognize that our success lies not only in what we can accomplish today, but what we enable others to accomplish tomorrow.’
“Going forward, I will consider myself successful if the friends I have made continue to cross my path, long after I no longer wear this uniform,” said Garamond. “Should the nation call upon this organization to perform its mission, I will take solace knowing that the Soldiers are trained and prepared and have competent leaders. It has truly been an honor to serve as your commander and I hope you always find your way home.”
After Garamond finished speaking, the newly appointed commander, Col. Miller spoke to those in attendance. “I want to start by thanking all of you for attending today,” he said. “I want to thank Brig. Gen. Cherry for leading the ceremony, and for the opportunity to lead this great unit.”
Miller then addressed the 209th Soldiers. “It is indeed a great honor and privilege to serve as your new commander,” he said. “We live in a dangerous world today. We must be well-trained, highly-motivated and deployable Soldiers. I look forward to our mutual effort in ensuring the 209th RSG, it’s subordinate units, and our Soldiers are ready if our Nation calls us. Let’s get after it.”