70th ISRW hails its new wing commander
June 23, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - About 300 Airmen of the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing rendered their first salute to Col. Mary F. O'Brien, the organization's new commander, during a change of command ceremony held Friday on McGlachlin Parade Field.
O'Brien assumed command from Col. John D. Bansemer, who served two years. Bansemer's next assignment is as assistant vice commander at the Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
O'Brien last served at Fort Meade from 2002 to 2004 as commander of the 22nd Intelligence Squadron.
"I'm thrilled to be back," she said during her remarks.
The new commander praised the 5,000 Airmen under her watch in Colorado, Texas, the United Kingdom and Japan.
"I am so inspired by the professionalism and dedication of the Airmen of the 70th ISR Wing," she said.
Known as "America's Cryptologic Wing," the 70th ISR Wing operates intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations for the Air Force, U.S. Cyber Command, National Security Agency and Central Security Service. The organization also develops, integrates and employs cryptologic capabilities and expeditionary Airmen.
In his remarks, Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, commander of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, said O'Brien "has what it takes" to lead the wing.
"She brings to the table the kind of intellect and experience we need," said Heithold, adding that O'Brien has led Airmen in combat. "I am certain that Colonel O'Brien is the ideal choice to take the helm of the 70th ISR Wing."
Prior to her present assignment, O'Brien was the director of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at Headquarters, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colo.
She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1989.
A career intelligence officer, O'Brien's assignments have included wing and staff positions. She has also held intelligence analyst, targeting officer and collection manager positions while deployed in support of humanitarian and combat operations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Kosovo; and Afghanistan.
Her tours outside of the intelligence field include serving as a legislative fellow on Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton's personal staff and for the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Legislative Liaison.
O'Brien has also served as the commander of Menwith Hill Station, United Kingdom.
In her remarks at the ceremony, O'Brien called returning to the 70th ISR Wing a "homecoming." The colonel also praised Bansemer for his service.
"I know firsthand what a great leader he is and how much he and his wife have done for this wing," O'Brien said.
In his farewell to the 70th ISR Wing, Bansemer said he would "leave with memories that last a lifetime." He called the organization "a wonderful wing" and described O'Brien as "an exceptional leader."
Heithold then presented Bansemer with the Legion of Merit. In his remarks, Heithold cited Bansemer's many achievements, including the formation and stand-up of the first cyber intelligence ISRG, the 659th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, to support the 24th Air Force, the newly created Air Force cyber component to U.S. Cyber Command.
Bansemer maintained the highest deployment rate of any organization within the Air Force ISR Agency.
After the ceremony, O'Brien said she will rely on her team-oriented management style and four years of service in the ISR Wing to lead the organization forward.
In addition, the new commander said her immediate goals are to get to know the people in the wing on and off Fort Meade; familiarize herself with the new intelligence and cyber capabilities that the wing has implemented; and "get to know our partners on the installation and how we can continue to support each other."