The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine welcomed Col. Michael I. Cohen as USARIEM’s twenty-fourth commander during a Change of Command Ceremony August 3, at the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts. Command of USARIEM was relinquished by Col. Troy N. Morton through the transfer of unit colors, an important military tradition, symbolizing the beginning a new dawn of leadership for the incoming commander and the command.
Brig. Gen. Anthony L. McQueen, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical research and Development Command and Fort Detrick, officiated the ceremony, passing the ceremonial colors which was witnessed by family, friends, Service Members and distinguished guests.
McQueen began by reflecting on Morton’s style of welcoming visitors to USARIEM, saying he didn’t know what Troy was going to put them through for the Change of Command. Commenting that visiting USARIEM is full-contact, get-in-there to fully experience what USARIEM does from a data collection or a research standpoint and you need to absolutely, fully live it – whether it be getting dunked in a cold weather pool or going to the top of Pikes Peak.
“It gave me a true appreciation for just how important the research and the work this organization does,” said McQueen.
“During his time here, Col. Morton has done a stellar job leading the team to provide solutions so our military can serve in every possible environmental scenario,” said McQueen. “Troy’s out-front leadership style and engaged communication with the workforce fostered trust, created cohesion, and increased overall performance.”
McQueen highlighted Morton for his many accomplishments at USARIEM and throughout his 23-year Army Career.
“Troy’s past and current success at the command level is due in part to his ability to motivate. He understands interpersonal dynamics and communication in ways that some leaders have difficulty grasping. He consistently emphasizes both team and individual empowerment,” said McQueen. “Troy, it has been my extreme pleasure to work with you. Thank you for your genuine and expert leadership.”
Turning to Cohen, McQueen congratulated and welcomed him to USARIEM and the bigger USAMRDC team.
“Mike is known to be an effective communicator who places a premium on cultivating relationships. He abides by the Army priority of putting people first, which is also one of my top priorities,” said McQueen.
Following McQueen’s remarks, Morton took his turn at the podium to deliver his final report on USARIEM.
“It is my honor to report: Team USARIEM has miraculously performed in a restricted environment, meeting all requirements that were tossed our way. Each of our team members found ways to continue research, and most importantly, communication pathways that allowed information flow in a COVID restricted environment.
“I have never worked with a team as strong, as focused, as determined, and devoted to mission as USARIEM,” he continued. “And why is this team so devoted? The answer is simple because they all do it for THE SOLDIER! I will forever hold USARIEM as the high-point of my service.”
Morton closed by thanking McQueen for his support and guidance and leaving Cohen and the USARIEM team with a bit of advice. “Remember the power of listening to understand, for therein lays the fundamental answers.”
Cohen comes to USARIEM after serving as the Command Surgeon for the 8th Army in Korea. As the senior medical officer, he advised the 8th Army commander in Health Service Support and Force Health Protection. During the last two and a half years, his role was focused on COVID-19 as he helped lead the 8th Army’s response to the pandemic.
“Mike’s efforts were instrumental in protecting U.S. forces in Korea from the threat posed by the virus. His expertise was invaluable when it came to the distribution of vaccinations and the publishing of orders for safety and mitigation measures. Thanks to this work, U.S. troops in Korea have maintained the lowest COVID-19 infection rate in the DOD,” said McQueen.
Cohen is a member of the Class of 2022 Army War College Distance Education Program. He earned his medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He received his commission as a Medical Officer through the Health Professions Scholarship Program at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is a graduate of the Army Medical Department Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Airborne School; Army Flight Surgeon Course; Navy Dive Medical Officer Course; Survival, Evacuation, Resistance and Escape school; Intermediate Level Education; and the AMEDD Executive Skills Course.
He previously served as the medical advisor for the NATO Special Operations Headquarters in Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Belgium. Previous assignments include service as a battalion surgeon for 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne); chief of Primary Care at Wuerzburg Army Medical Activity; clinic officer in charge of U.S. Army Special Operations Command; director of Family Medicine Obstetrics for the Family Medicine Residency Program at Womack Army Medical Center; deputy commander for Clinical Services at McDonald Army Health Center; and command surgeon for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Cohen deployed to Mosul, Iraq, as the chief of Primary Care and Emergency Services with the 67th Combat Support Hospital from 2004 to 2005. He returned to Mosul as a squadron surgeon with 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Armor Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armor Division from 2011 to 2012.
In his remarks, Cohen praised the USARIEM team for their dedication to the mission and accomplishments over the past couple of challenging years.
“Despite significant challenges during the global pandemic, USARIEM continued to conduct world-class research that optimizes health and performance of our Warfighters,” said Cohen.
“To the Soldiers and Staff of USARIEM, I am already so impressed by your professionalism and expertise. Most impressively, I sense an overall excitement for what you do. I assure you; I share that excitement. The work you do touches almost everything the Warfighter does. I want you to know I am deeply committed to ensuring you are able to continue your world-class research.”
USARIEM is a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command under the Army Futures Command. USARIEM is internationally recognized as the DOD's premier laboratory for Warfighter health and performance research and focuses on environmental medicine, physiology, physical and cognitive performance, and nutrition research. Located at the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts, USARIEM's mission is to optimize Warfighter health and performance through medical research.