JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Aug. 12, 2022) -- Members of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Irwin, California, welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony Aug. 10 at Fort Irwin.
Lt. Col. Matthew Wernert assumed command of the battalion from Lt. Col. Phuong Nguyen in a ceremony officiated by Col. Jason Clark, the Fort Irwin Garrison commander, before unit members, family and installation leaders as well as broadcast live for the Army acquisition community.
Related video: MICC-Fort Irwin change of command
Clark said the battalion commander selection process is a very tough cut to make and involves approximately 18 years of trials and tribulations that include the right report cards and jobs for review by post brigade commanders and general officers to make the paper cut before consideration for the Army’s Battalion Commanders Assessment to ensure what is said on paper resonates with what happens in person.
“It’s a much better process to ensure we get the right people to command the most difficult assignments. Phuong and Matt, they got it right when they got you here,” Clark said. “Your dedication to Fort Irwin, your MICC team and the community has significantly increased the quality of life at Fort Irwin.”
Wernert comes to MICC-Fort Irwin after having served as the assistant executive officer to the director of the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, which is responsible for expediting critical capabilities to the field to meet combatant commanders’ needs.
The new commander said it is a privilege to support the Soldiers and families of Fort Irwin, adding that the installation has been responsible for training units to fight and win since 1980, as evidenced in conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Armored and Stryker brigades currently deployed across the globe have trained at Fort Irwin, and I am excited to lead this MICC organization as a key enabler through the power of Army contracting in preparing units for combat operations,” Wernert said. “I look forward to being a part of the effort to support Armored and Stryker brigade rotations, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, operations group, the 916th Support Brigade, Weed Army Community Hospital, and the Garrison agencies of this post.”
MICC-Fort Irwin is composed of the mission support, installation support and business operations divisions enabling readiness for National Training Center, tenant organizations and rotational units with contracting solutions and oversight. During remarks, Wernert expressed his full trust and confidence in the contracting abilities of the men and women making up the MICC-Fort Irwin team.
“We are a part of an important mission in support of Army readiness, which is something that we should all be proud of,” he said. “I look forward to facing and overcoming challenges together, all while taking care of each other and accomplishing the mission. You all have my full dedication, and I will give you my best every day.”
MICC-Fort Irwin also supports the contingency contracting training for Soldiers in the 51C military occupation series during brigade-size training exercises at the National Training Center. The contracting office serves as host for 10 contracting teams from across the Army Contracting Command and Army National Guard in the support of the separate brigade-level training rotations.
Wernert earned his commission as a second lieutenant in May 2004 as an Armor Officer. His assignments included serving as scout platoon leader and platoon leader before becoming an executive officer. He also served as an assistant operations officer at Fort Polk, Louisiana, before assuming command of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment with which he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His operational assignments also include Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Diyala Province.
Wernert’s acquisition career began in August 2012 as the 622nd Contracting Team leader at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the MICC's 922nd Contracting Battalion. He deployed to Regional Contracting Office-Capital in Kabul, Afghanistan, in May 2014 as contracting officer and deputy director. He was next assigned to the 928th CBN in Grafenwohr, Germany, in August 2015 and served as the 675th CT leader, battalion operations officer in charge and battalion executive officer in support of Atlantic Resolve. Wernert was next assigned to the 410th Contracting Support Brigade, deploying as the chief of operations for Army Contracting Command-Afghanistan and, upon return, serving at the brigade operations officer. He next served as the chief of contracting for the U.S. Army Health Contracting Activity's Health Readiness Contracting Office.
Wernert, a native of Eastpointe, Michigan, is a 2004 graduate of Norwich University, The Military College of Vermont. He is Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level III certified in contracting, and a recipient of the ACC Contingency Contracting Officer Medallion. He also holds a Master of Arts in Procurement and Acquisitions Management from Webster University.
Nguyen, who assumed command of MICC-Fort Irwin in September 2019, departs for an assignment with the Joint Staff at the Pentagon serving as the acquisition manager for the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance/Integrated Electronic Warfare System. He acknowledged the outstanding efforts by members of his staff, including deputy director Marquis McInnis, over the past three years of command during which the contracting office overcame multiple challenges.
“In the past years, you took on despondency by the horn and moving forward despite challenges to complete the mission,” he said referencing Bishop T.D. Jakes on courage. “After all you have been through, I marveled at your tremendous courage. You all have inspired me.”
During the ceremony, Clark also expressed a few words on Nguyen’s successes by Col. Jessie Griffith, commander of the 418th CSB at Fort Hood, Texas, to which MICC-Fort Irwin is subordinate.
“The impact you and the team have had on the readiness and modernization of the National Training Center and Fort Irwin will undoubtedly be felt for many years to come,” Griffith said. “You have done an exceptional job providing guidance to the team and left a legacy of mission partner integration and outstanding support.”
The tradition of changes of command is rooted in military history dating back to the 18th century when organizational flags with colors and symbols unique to each unit were developed. During a change of command conducted in front of the unit, the organizational flag is passed to the individual assuming command to which Soldiers of the unit would dedicate their loyalty and trust.
About the MICC
Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. As part of its mission, MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.