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NEWS | Sept. 29, 2022

New York Army Reserve medical brigade gains new commander

By Sgt. Vontrae Hampton Army Reserve Medical Command

Command of the Northeast Medical Area Readiness Support Group, headquartered in Staten Island, New York, transferred between outgoing commander, Col. Thomas McMahan, and incoming commander, Col. Craig McFarland in a ceremony Sept. 24, 2022, at the Fort Wadsworth Battery Weed National Historic Site.

McMahan led NEMARSG throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“Covid-19 has taught us that you always have to be ready for the nation’s call,” said McMahan. “As Army Reserve Soldiers, we have to always remain flexible and adaptable.”

NEMARSG is responsible for providing command and control for more than 20 units with 1,200 Soldiers assigned to medical backfill battalions, medical support units, troop medical clinics, blood detachments and veterinary detachments located throughout the Northern United States. Maj. Gen. W. Scott Lynn, commanding general of Army Reserve Medical Command, presided over the ceremony.

One of the highlights of McMahan’s tenure was answering the call to become the first and only U.S. Army Reserve Medical Unit to support the Operation Allies Welcome mission at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin McMahan explained NEMARSG was able to deploy about 100 Soldiers to assist in the effort in less than 2 weeks.

“This team was fantastic before I got here, and they’ve only risen to my challenges to them,” McMahan said. “Frankly, it’s bittersweet leaving.”

McMahan has had success throughout his entire career, and he looks forward to a successful command at 3rd Medical Command Forward.

Change of command ceremonies are a time-honored military tradition that represent a transfer of authority and responsibility from one commander to another. The passing of colors, or unit guidon, from an outgoing commander to an incoming commander, represents a continuation of trust and signifies an allegiance of Soldiers to their unit’s commander.

“Col. McFarland has big shoes to fill,” said Lynn (referencing the lagacy McMahon left).. “He is a full spectrum medical Soldier, and I am confident in that. I know he’ll do a great job.”

McFarland recognized that. “As Col. McMahan said, this is a really high functioning organization, and I want to continue the processes that have worked so well and incrementally improve the unit,” he said. McFarland is an anesthesiologist in his civilian capacity. He said he is ready to bring his professional knowledge, and command and operational experience to Northeast MARSG.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with highly professional and motivated Soldiers,” said McFarland.

The Army Reserve as well as the total force has faced recruiting challenges this fiscal year.

“I think the best recruiting comes from a body of enthusiastic Soldiers that feel part of a unit–part of a team with a relevant mission,” McFarland explained. “They all have friends who have friends, and when that type of enthusiasm gets out, it creates interest.”

NEMARSG directly enables Army Reserve Medical Command’s mission to provide combat ready professional medical Soldiers for the Army and Joint services that are trained and equipped to preserve the fighting strength of our Nation’s servicemembers.