LAGO DI PATRIA, Italy — Allied Forces South Battalion bid farewell to Lt. Col. Brian M. Travis and welcomed Lt. Col. Ebrima F. M’Bai during a change of command ceremony June 22 at Joint Forces Command Naples.
“Just over two years ago I was honored with the opportunity to take command of the Centurion Battalion,” said Travis. “I knew this was going to be the biggest challenge of my career as we were just nearing the end of COVID lock down number one here in Italy and most of Europe.
“I was being directed to take command of a unit stretched across Southern Europe and North America, reaching from Ankara, Turkey in the east to Norfolk, Virginia in the west. This 5,500 mile wide footprint and the Soldiers and families within would consume my nearly every thought for the next couple of years.
"During that time we faced more lockdowns due to COVID-19; the end of our mission to support Resolute Support in Afghanistan, and continuous deployed presence in Iraq and Kuwait in support of NATO Training Mission-Iraq where Soldiers are currently down range as this ceremony takes place; a no notice call to support Operation Allied Solace, NATO's response to the Afghan refugee crisis, and most recently the first ever activation of the NATO response force in response to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
“In each of these unique and complex events, members of this battalion either deployed directly in response, supported those who went forward, increased their level of readiness to respond when called upon, or found ways to increase the readiness of those they support,” he said.
Travis moves to his next assignment at Human Resources Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
M’Bai comes to the command from United States Indo-Pacific Command where he served in the J1 section.
“To the Soldiers and civilians of AFSOUTH, I can't promise you the days ahead will be easy, but as the author James Kerr intimated in his book, Legacy, organizations with sustainable success are purpose-driven, vision-led, and values-based,” said M’Bai.
“Values: We know what we stand for. Vision: We have a clear idea of the world we want to bring into existence. Purpose: We have asked and answered the question why does it matter.
“I promise you we will meet our challenges together and we will emerge as a disciplined, trained, and ready team.
“Finally, I am truly humbled and honored to serve as your battalion commander and I look forward to all the opportunities and challenges that await us,” he said.
“What a great day to be a Soldier,” said Col. Miles T. Gengler, U.S. Army NATO Brigade commander. “In our Army winning matters and today, we say goodbye to Lt. Col. Travis after a very successful tenure as the battalion commander-- a significant win for our Army and his career. And, we welcome
Lt. Col. M'Bai from INDOPACOM as he assumes command - a significant win in his career as we know less than a third of lieutenant colonels earn the right to command Soldiers.”
Allied Forces South Battalion supports NATO and U.S. Army Europe and Africa missions by conducting individual Soldier and family readiness through training, logistics, and human resources support, in order to strengthen the resiliency of Soldiers and their Families, while building and maintaining joint and multinational partnerships.