POWIDZ, Poland -- The 191st Regional Support Group, from the Puerto Rico National Guard, completed the transfer of authority with the 120th RSG, out of the Maine NG, during a ceremony at the 33rd Airlift Base in Powidz, Poland on July 1.
The official party, consisting of Col. Paul W. Dahlen, outgoing commander, Col. James Young III, incoming commander, and Brig. Gen. Wanda Williams, commander of the 7th Mission Support Command and deputy commander for the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, the higher headquarters for these RSGs during their mission in Europe, made their way to center stage to face both units.
Shortly after, both groups cased and uncased their colors symbolizing the beginning and the end of their respective missions while dozens of spectators served as witnesses of a smooth transition of power.
“It is fitting to acknowledge that today's transfer of authority is between two National Guard units, comprised of Citizen-Soldiers who embody our nation's commitment to representative democracy,” said Williams during her speech.
U.S. Army doctrine defines an RSG as a deployable headquarters that manages base camps or base clusters with a population of 6,000 or more personnel and requires services beyond basic life support.
But this RSG is a bit more than that.
The 191st RSG is the only unit of its kind within the Puerto Rico National Guard with these capabilities, and supported 14 forward operating sites, or FOSs, throughout the European Union, specifically in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Service members from all over the world rotated through these FOSs, and at the time of their TOA, the RSG had supported more than 14,000 troops at any given moment for the span of nine months.
When intelligence reports suggested a Russian invasion on Ukraine was imminent, the 191st was immediately tasked to establish operations in southeast Poland and set up a FOS there to support the 82nd Airborne Division, which, as the U.S. Army’s quick reaction force, came to aid European allies.
“When we started our mission in October of last year, the world was a different place,” said Dahlen during his remarks. “We had prepared well for our BOS-I (base operation support - integrator) responsibilities and were ready to improve quality of life for all Soldiers in Central and Eastern Europe, but in late February, everything changed. After the invasion of Ukraine, business as usual was a thing of the past,” he added.
At the same time, V Corps was sending thousands of new Soldiers across all their assigned FOSs in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.
To further mention their success, they reduced $36 million from their property book, their Directorate of Public Works initiated 25 new construction projects, and their Ministry Team distributed over 3,000 care packages. They also increased force protection measures in several sites and purchased three Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) containerized buildings currently waiting to arrive soon.
The surrounding communities also experienced what the 191st RSG was capable of. They participated in more than 50 community outreach events, to include visits to local schools and orphanages, charitable and arts events, area beautification projects and cultural exchanges.
“The Soldiers of the 191st were among the first to support humanitarian aid to Ukraine and have participated in local activities for Ukrainian refugees, including working with the U.S. Embassy to develop English classes for Ukrainian refugees,” mentioned Williams.
“If I were to continue to cite all of the 191st's achievements, we would most likely be here through the Fourth of July fireworks,” she added.