Natick welcomes new garrison commander
June 13, 2011
In a change-of-command ceremony June 10 at U.S. Army Garrison-Natick, Lt. Col. Frank K. Sobchak took over as garrison commander from Lt. Col. Kari K. Otto.
“I’m especially honored to be taking command of the only active Army garrison in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Sobchak said. “Napoleon once said that he would rather have marshals who were lucky than were good. Well, I’m one of those lucky marshals.”
Sobchak pointed out that he was fortunate to get help in the transition from Otto, USAG-Natick partners such as the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, the Integrated Logistics Support Center, as well as the Natick Board of Selectmen, Police and Fire Departments. He also thanked those with whom he had served and by whom he had been mentored.
“Most of all, I am lucky to have met my wife, Lt. Col. Risa Sobchak, who is not here because she is in the Inspector General course at Fort Belvoir,” Sobchak said. “She is my partner, my confidant, and my soul mate.
“She is a superb officer, a dedicated and loving wife, and the best mother that I could ever wish for to help raise our four children. I love her and wouldn’t be standing here without her always having my back.”
Russ Hall, Installation Management Command Northeast Region Director, had words of praise for the outgoing and incoming commanders.
“Kari and Frank, it is a great day for both of you, mixed with happiness and sadness,” Hall said. “I am proud to be a part of it. My best to you both as you step into this next phase of your careers and the garrison embarks on the next phase of its future.”
Hall called Natick “one of the Army’s best kept secrets. Up here in beautiful New England, so close to Boston and Cape Cod, rich in our nation’s history, is a beautiful Army installation with a vital mission and an eye to the future.”
Otto, said Hall, had worked toward that future through the garrison master plan.
“Her master-plan process has become the standard throughout the Army and was shared as a best practice at the 2011 Army Planner’s Symposium,” Hall said. “Most importantly, the master plan clearly aligns the senior commander’s vision of a sustainable Natick installation, providing state-of-the-art infrastructure necessary to support the mission of the tenant organizations.
“She has been a strong commander who solidified the garrison staff and focused them on her priorities in base operations. Now she is going to take her drive and determination and move on to bigger and better things.”
Otto said that her three years at Natick had been interesting and educational.
“The Natick Soldier Systems Center mission is like none other, and our military on the battlefield directly benefit from your selfless support on a daily basis,” Otto said. “You take tomorrow’s technology and make it a reality for today.”
Hall said that Sobchak would follow ably in Otto’s footsteps.
“Your broad experience and your knowledge will help you lead this terrific team and bring the war-fighter perspective to the mission here at Natick,” Hall said. “I know you are the right person for the job here at Natick, and you will do well. Your background in military intelligence, Special Forces, … as a congressional liaison, and teaching at West Point proves that you are one of the best.”
“I look forward to the days ahead,” said Sobchak, “where all of us here at Team Natick work together to continue the superb progress that (Lt. Col. Otto has made).”
In his most recent assignment, Sobchak served as Congressional Liaison for U.S. Special Operations Command in Washington, D.C. The 1992 graduate of the United State Military Academy earned a master of arts in Arab studies in 2002 from Georgetown University.
Sobchak’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Army Achievement Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), and the National Defense Service Medal.