CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea – The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade hosted its change of command ceremony, presided over by Maj. Gen. Daniel Christian, Eighth Army deputy commanding general for sustainment, at the Eighth Army Wightman NCO Academy auditorium, July 24.
During the passing of the colors, witnessed by a very small audience to allow for COVID-19 restrictions, the mantle of command leadership was passed from Col. James Walsh to Col. Paul Oh.
“The 501st MI Brigade is one of the most critical intelligence units, with a real world optempo (operational tempo), and scope of responsibility,” said Christian. “This group of Soldiers and civilians serve as the eyes and ears of the command forward and provide a vital role in our understanding of our operational environment. Without the 501st MI Brigade, the fog and friction of a complex Korean peninsula would challenge our readiness to ‘Fight Tonight’ in support of the defense of Korea.”
Christian went on to discuss the challenges and complexities that go into the military intelligence mission and those of commanding such a unit in such an environment.
“Eighth Army could not have asked for a better military intelligence brigade commander than Colonel James P. Walsh,” continued Christian. “Today’s change of command ceremony is a well-deserved recognition of his hard work and dedication to the safety and security of Korea.”
Christian thanked Walsh and his family for their support for the last two years and wished them well during their transition to the European Cryptologic Center in Wiesbaden, Germany. As we bid farewell to Colonel Walsh, Christian said, we also welcome another exemplary leader with a wealth of knowledge and experience, Colonel Paul Oh and his family.
“Colonel Oh, I look forward to working with you further and I have no doubt you will continue to provide world-class intelligence operations to ensure that we are ready to ‘Fight Tonight,’” said Christian.
During his remarks, Walsh publicly thanked and praised the professionalism of his Republic of Korea partners that work side-by-side with the brigade every day.
“Without question, this is the most powerful intelligence environment in which I have ever served,” said Walsh. “I am truly sorry, that due to COVID, our ROK intel community teammates aren’t able to be with us here today.”
Walsh praised the outstanding command teams, at all levels, that he served with during his tenure. He also thanked the officers, NCOs, Soldiers, KATUSA (Korean Augmentation To the United States Army) Soldiers, civilians and contractors across the brigade for their service and dedication in support of the intelligence requirements of both Eighth Army and United States Forces Korea for the Korean Peninsula. Above all others, Walsh thanked his wife and daughter, for their continuing sacrifice and steadfast support throughout his career, and whom he credits with making everything he accomplishes possible.
Walsh welcomed Oh and his wife to the brigade, saying, “Paul, you are taking command of an incredible unit, and I have no doubt you will raise the bar and lead the team to become even greater.” He continued that he could not think of a better command team to hand the brigade off to than the two of them.
“Enjoy command, and once COVID permits, I hope you are able to get around the country and enjoy Korea as much as we did,” said Walsh. “We will always have Korea in our hearts thanks to the memories of our travels throughout this incredible country and the friendships with people like Mr. Pak, Song Su, and Mrs. Yi, Yong Sol and so many other wonderful folks that we have had the privilege to meet.”
Oh began his remarks by thanking Eighth Army leadership for the special privilege of commanding the 501st. He also offered his sincere appreciation to his Korean Alliance partners for their continued support. Oh warned his family that he would be getting a little busier as he assumed the responsibilities of command, but that they would continue the race set before them together.
“To the Red Dragons, what a great privilege to join this team,” said Oh. “You are essential in ensuring our adversaries never achieve operational and tactical surprise against this alliance, and you do this job well. I look forward to serving with you.”
The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade provides indications and early warning of actions by opposing forces that could threaten the tense but stable peace in the Republic of Korea. In the event of hostilities, the brigade’s mission shifts to providing combined, multi-discipline intelligence and force protection support to the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command, the CFC Ground Component Command and their subordinate units.