ADELPHI, Maryland -- Cyber warriors assigned to the first U.S. Army Reserve cyber unit under the 335th Signal Command (Theater), gathered to witness a change of command ceremony at the Army Research Laboratory here September 24.

Col. Michael D. Smith, outgoing commander for the Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group (ARCOG), 335th SC (T), was given a fond farewell by fellow Soldiers, family members and honored guests, as he handed off responsibility for the ARCOG to Col. Robert S. Powell Jr.

"I am appreciative of the guidance and mentorship I have received from our general officers," said Smith. "The ARCOG continues to move forward towards greater readiness and lethality. Our readiness will focus on people, training and teamwork to deliver superior support. The ARCOG has cultivated a climate of respect, trust, responsibility and accountability."

Smith, a Maryland native, assumed command in 2015, and transitioned the brigade-sized former Army Reserve Information Operations Command, to the ARCOG in October 2016. This change to both a new name and a new table of distribution and allowances (TDA) has resulted in qualifying over 100 Army Reserve signal and intelligence Soldiers in the new career management Field 17 series for cyber, as well as starting two of the ARCOG's ten cyber protection teams towards their Initial Operating Capability (IOC).

As of today, the ARCOG is steadily moving toward that IOC goal, concentrating on readiness. With the strategic planning of the ARCOG leaders, the first Cyber Common Training Core (CCTC) mobile training class was launched in the beginning of this year to get Soldiers within the command cyber qualified, under Smith's leadership.

"I am very humbled to have worked with an officer of such a high caliber like Col. Smith,''said Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy L. Eddy, command sergeant major, ARCOG. "He was truly dedicated to the command in fulfilling the desired requirements for the Army Reserve cyber mission."

"Col. Smith, has advanced ARCOG readiness for the defensive cyber mission, and has made massive strides towards formalizing our stationing," said Chief Warrant Officer Robert C. Hembrook, command chief warrant officer, ARCOG. "His leadership helped his staff tailor the rigorous cyber training requirements to the unique needs of the Reserve forces, and received support from senior leaders across the Army and Department of Defense. He has made notable improvements for Reserve readiness."

During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Nikki Griffin-Olive, deputy commanding general, 335th SC (T), explained that attendees at the ceremony have witnessed a transfer of authority "from one extraordinary commander to another." She also mentioned how Smith and Powell, have traveled similar successful career paths, allowing both of them to lead the ARCOG.

Powell, a Georgia resident, and a U.S. Army War College, Department of Distance Education, faculty instructor and course author, recently completed the U.S. Army Brigade Command Course, before assuming responsibility of the ARCOG. Also a Citizen Soldier, he holds a civilian position as a program manager for the Information Assurance-Cyber Network Defense, training contract based out of the Fort Gordon Cyber Center of Excellence.

"I look forward to leading the best cyber warriors in the Army Total Force," he said.

Having the chance to network and tap into the ARCOG cyber partnerships is something to be explored as well, he explained.

Above all else, Powell shared that readiness will be his priority over the next few months and going forward.

"We must be able to shoot, move and communicate. For the cyber forces, shooting will include individual weapons and proficiency in cyber skills."

We must ensure that our Soldiers are deployable and able to 'Fight Tonight,' he said, regarding top priorities for the ARCOG mission.

Both Smith and Powell, were joined by their families for the ceremony. Honored guests who attended the ceremony included Brig. Gen. Nikki L. Griffin-Olive, Brig. Gen. Joseph McGee, deputy commander of operations for U.S. Army Cyber Command and Brig. Gen. Stephen J. Hager, deputy commanding general of operations, 335th SC (T).

Acknowledging Smith's accomplishments in his remarks, Powell said, he had just been given command of the finest unit in the U.S. Army.