by SSG David Carney
When the time came for a change of command for the first brigade-level Army multicomponent unit, commanders had to improvise on Field Manual 22-5 (drill and ceremonies).
The 142d Signal Brigade, headquartered in Decatur, Ala., is an Alabama Army National Guard unit with both state and federal missions. It’s also the first brigade-level multicompo unit, consisting of three Alabama National Guard battalions and one Active Component battalion located at Fort Lewis, Wash. As a result of the multicompo change, the 142d Signal Brigade commander, BG Troy Oliver, an Alabama National Guard officer, reported to both the two-star adjutant general of Alabama (who reports to the governor of Alabama) and also to the Active Component three-star I Corps commander at Fort Lewis.
So the question naturally arose when it came time for Oliver to leave on how to involve both senior commanders in the passing of the colors during the change-of-command ceremony?
BG Troy Oliver, right, passes 142d Signal Brigade's guidon to LTG James Hill as CSM Charles McClendon observes. (Photo by SSG Al Fowlkes)
Brigade CSM Charles McClendon explained, "FM 22-5 establishes the procedures for the change-of-command ceremony, but it allows the commander some latitude to make minor changes as long as Army tradition is maintained. The FM was written before multicomponent units existed and doesn’t address current relationships between the active Army and the Army National Guard. Today’s Army has seen many organizational structure and alignment changes, so we coordinated with both the I Corps commander, LTG James Hill, and the Alabama adjutant general, MG Willie Alexander, to determine what would be most appropriate for us."
Does this signify a possible change to FM 22-5? "We can’t speak for any other commands or commanders," McClendon said. "We just tried to do what seemed most appropriate and respectful to the commanders involved."
McClendon passed the colors to outgoing commander Oliver, who passed them to Hill, who passed them to Alexander, who passed them to incoming commander COL Dallas Fanning, who passed them back to the brigade command sergeant major.
Oliver, a Purple Heart recipient, Vietnam veteran and 35-year-career officer, left the Signal brigade to assume a new post, as well as a second star, as commander of 167th Logistical Support Command headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.
Fanning – promoted to brigadier general in June – is also a Vietnam veteran and has been a Signal officer for most of his 30 years’ military service. In his civilian occupation, he directs planning and urban development for Huntsville, Ala.
The change of command took place at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville with almost 1,000 soldiers and civilians present.
"Oliver molded 142d Signal Brigade into a viable part of our nation’s readiness," Fanning said. "We’ll continue to support I Corp units, participate in I Corps missions and maintain the structure of America’s Corps as the model of today’s Army."
SSG Carney is 142d Signal Brigade’s public-affairs officer.
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