GAZIANTEP, Turkey (July 3, 2013) -- 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery, a U.S. Army Patriot unit serving in Turkey as a part of the NATO mission "Patriot to Turkey," held a change of command ceremony June 14 in Gaziantep, Turkey.

The ceremony welcomed Lt. Col. John Dawber as the battalion's new commander while also honoring Lt. Col. Charles Branson, for his achievements as the battalion's commander for nearly two years.

Branson relinquished command to Dawber before the battalion's Soldiers, leaders and distinguished visitors. The ceremony was a milestone for the battalion, as it marked the half-way point of the unit's tour in Turkey and coincided with the Army's 238th birthday.

The battalion deployed to Turkey in January and established operations in Gaziantep in support of the NATO air defense mission that is the first of its kind.

Branson took command of 3-2nd ADA July 17, 2011. Throughout his tenure of command, he encountered many challenges; such as personnel shortages in the reset phase of the Army force generation cycle, and fiscal restraints and lack of recapped equipment. He overcame these challenges by empowering his subordinate leaders, which he believes is one of his greatest contributions to the unit. Branson trusted subordinate leaders to provide adequate courses of action for the issues they faced. Branson's leadership style, which emphasizes engaged leadership with a decentralized command philosophy, also contributed to the battalion's success.

After a successful command, Branson remarked of his time leading the "Lethal Strike" battalion and shared some memories. A few of those events were: battalion fun runs, which included Soldiers and their families; a Halloween Trunk or Treat party where Soldiers decorated the trunks of their personal vehicles and handed out candy to children; and a battalion safety brief where he and his staff acted out a short safety skit while riding in a boat.

He said his favorite memory was deploying to Turkey "with the best ADA battalion in the world."

Having commanded a battalion, Branson now moves back to student status as he will attend the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.

Taking command of the 3-2nd ADA, Dawber said he strongly believes he is there for the Soldiers and wants to work for them. Like Branson, Dawber believes in emphasizing Soldier care and empowering subordinate leaders. A strong proponent of standards and doctrine, he said he is a steadfast leader who enforces discipline and expects to build a unit immersed in a culture of winning. His command philosophy and vision is based upon "making a difference, making it happen and making it last."

He said overall unit readiness is his No. 1 priority, and his goal is for all members of the organization to be able to positively answer the question, "Am I and my team ready to go each and every day?"

Battalion command has been a long-term professional goal for Dawber, who said he believes commanding the unit is an honor and a blessing for his family and himself.

Branson left with a few words to encourage unit members.

"Always be in the right place at the right time, in the right uniform with the right attitude. With some thought and motivation, each one of you can affect change and improvement," he said. "The best unit is not the one you just left, or the one you are going to, but the one you belong to, and you can make a difference."