JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – On July 9, 2020, the Soldiers of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) formally welcomed Col. Ryan R. Ehrler as the new commander of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) while bidding farewell to Col. Owen G. Ray during an official ceremony held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.Prior to taking command, Ehrler completed his second Master’s Degree at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He is no stranger to 1st SFG (A) having previously served as the deputy commanding officer for the group in 2018.Ehrler, recognized for his action, energy and intellect, is thankful for being entrusted in leading the group over the next two years.“I look forward to leading you up and out, down and in, and laterally,” he said. “[We’ll fight] like hell every day for what we need to do to be better for what our country needs.”Maj. Gen. John W. Brennan Jr., 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) commanding general, first met Ehrler in 2007 and they have worked repeatedly together throughout their careers.“If what I saw him accomplish in Iraq and Syria serves as any indicator, [1st SFG (A)] is in for an awesome and wild ride,” Brennan said. “He’s a warfighter of unimpeachable repute who will take this mantle of command and run with it.”Brennan continued to express his faith in Erhler’s ability to lead 1st SFG (A) through an ever changing world environment where adaptation and security are paramount.“You’re the perfect guy to take over for this group during a critical time in our nation’s history,” said Brennan. “The world certainly didn’t get any safer or more sanguine during your time at the War College and I know you’re ready to get after it.”Brennan recognized that 1st SFG (A) Soldiers are truly “First in Asia” through their decades of partnerships with military forces and their persistent engagement with populations to identify and counter threats in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility.“You are literally on the front lines in the competition space with China, while addressing a variety of violent extremist organizations in the INDOPACOM AOR that seek to harm us and our partners, [and deploy] battalion task forces into the U.S. Central Command AOR to combat terrorism,” Brennan said. “None of this could have happened without the exemplary leadership of Owen Ray.”Ray created and employed Joint Task Force Indo-Pacific, which provides in-theater command and control of special operations elements who engage with partners and near-peer competitors.“While standing up the new task force, Owen simultaneously validated multiple units for deployment to the CENTCOM AOR in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel,” Brennan said. “Those deployments resulted in two successful combat rotations over the last two years which helped bring the Taliban to the negotiating table and keep them there.”Ray said he was lucky for the opportunity to serve 1st SFG (A) a fourth time.“[1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)] has been my band of brothers and sisters for almost 20 years,” he said. He’s confident in the future success of the Soldiers of the group under Erhler’s leadership. “The nation is calling, and 1st Group is ready.”