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NEWS | Aug. 19, 2021

Fuquay-Varina, N.C., resident assumes command of Army Reserve medical unit

By Lt. Col. William Geddes Army Reserve Medical Command

Col. Aaron B. Neal, a Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, resident assumed duties as the commander of the Army Reserve Medical Command’s Southeast Medical Area Readiness Support Group from Col. Eless D. Brown during a ceremony Aug. 7 at the CSM Paul B. Huff Army Reserve Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Change of command ceremonies are a military tradition that represent a transfer of authority and responsibility for units or commands. The history, tradition, and accomplishments of the command are embodied in the colors, which is the guidon or organizational flag of the unit and represents the organization and its commander. The passing of colors from an outgoing commander to an incoming commander ensures that the unit and its Soldiers are never without official leadership, represents a continuation of trust, and signifies an allegiance of Soldiers to their unit's commander.

Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Marsiglia, Medical Readiness and Training Command Commanding General, presided over the ceremony, accepting the colors from Brown as she relinquished command and handing them to Neal, symbolizing the transferring of authority.

“We don’t miss a beat when we change commanders,” said Marsiglia. “Col. Brown did a great job leading the SEMARSG through a difficult COVID-19 dominated time period. I have complete confidence that Col. Neal will do just as great a job making sure the SEMARSG and all their downtrace continues to stay ready today to support the Army and Joint mission. If we have that bad day these types of units especially have to be ready right away, they’re among the first units out the door.”

Maintaining Soldier and unit readiness during the COVID19 pandemic was a challenge for Brown and her team. “It was uncharted waters,” said Brown, a Birmingham, Alabama resident who works for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as the compliance enforcement manager for Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle in her civilian capacity. “Word came down that travel was shut down, and we immediately turned to developing ways to make sure our Soldiers stayed ready. Soon after, the call came to create Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces, and our Soldiers were ready, and we made our portion of those missions happen, along with missions supporting the ROTC Cadet Summer Training, and at mobilization force generation installations.”

Neal, who is the director of Surgical Services (3SL) at Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, recognizes the challenges to come, and welcomes them. “With every challenge comes opportunity,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot over the past 18 months of dealing with COVID, and we’ll take those lessons learned and continue to improve and stay ready now.

Neal also said he has a plan to make that happen. “I will have three main focuses coming into this position: I’ll focus on talent management, making sure we have the right Soldier in the right place, doing the right job; I’ll focus on culture, making sure we have a culture that supports the values, beliefs and behaviors that drives mission accomplishment and allows our Soldiers to thrive; and I’ll focus on communication, recognizing that information is a critical commodity, and that facilitating effective communication is key to sharing information up and down the chain.”

Headquartered in Nashville, the SEMARSG is responsible for providing mission command and control to Army hospital and medical units located in Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.