For only the second time since it was activated in December 2006 under the Future Force Integration Directorate, the Army Evaluation Task Force, 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, conducted a change of command.
The ceremony was held at Fort Bliss's Noel Field last week to say goodbye to the unit's second commander Col. Randy Lane and welcome its third commander Col. Daniel Pinnell. Lane, who was at the helm of the unit for almost two years, reported to his new assignment as the Chief of Staff for Headquarters, Fort Bliss, this week.
Maj. Gen. Keith Walker, FFID Director hosted the ceremony and cited some of the unit's accomplishments while Lane was in command, including several that involved local civilian organizations. Under Lane's guidance, the AETF became a partner of the Sierra Providence Health Network, which joined with the unit's Soldiers on several projects.
Speaking directly to the Soldiers, Lane said he had been privileged to command the unit and cited the major changes they had successfully navigated. These included MTOE transitions of standing up a base support battalion and standing down a MICO and engineering company; changing heavy units into light units, and units without equipment into heavy units; cancellation of the FCS program, the NLOS-C and the NLOS-LS; learning to use and train on equipment they didn't even know would be issued to them; and conducting new-equipment training on more than 23 pieces of equipment.
In spite of this, Lane said, the Soldiers managed to "test and evaluate every last piece of emerging technology" and "accomplished it with glowing results."
Lane noted, "The Army handed us a critical mission, and you provided the needed critical feedback to inform decisions. You never lost focus of a larger purpose of the current and future operating forces-a difficult task-yet you were up to it."
He also pointed out, "You and your families truly are heroes to the force. I'd like to remind you one last time that your dedication directly translates into saving lives of our Soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and any other complex environment that may pop up. The Army is counting on you to help deliver, test and provide the best capabilities that will save lives in your efforts of building the future army today. And that includes, at times, telling them when it's not ready."
Lane also thanked all his battalion commanders and command sergeants major and their spouses and the unit's top enlisted Soldier Command Sgt. Maj. Felipe Paul, whom he had personally asked to take the job with the AETF. "I will forever be thankful and feel good knowing that you will continue to train and care for the Soldiers," Lane told Paul. He thanked all the families and family readiness groups for continuing to be a strengthening force for the unit.
Lane noted that the partnership with Sierra Providence has brought benefits to the AETF, and he recognized the work of two members of the hospital network who attended the ceremony-John Harris and Rick Lance.
"They have truly extended our family out into the community," Lane stated, adding, "We have grown as a team-we have grown as a family, and we feel like we're not only part of Fort Bliss but also of El Paso."
In closing, he welcomed the incoming commander and his wife. "I can't think of a better command team," stated Lane, "than Pinnell and his lovely wife Lisa to take this brigade to new heights of success." Finally, he thanked his wife Cathleen and childrenbefore turning the podium over to the new brigade commander.
Pinnell served as the FFID G3 Division Chief prior to taking over the AETF and is from New York, where he was commissioned as a field artillery officer at Hofstra University. He has served in the 82nd Airborne Division, in Korea, Africa, Germany, Kosovo and Iraq, where he was commander of the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment in 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom 04-06. He is a Master Parachutist and Ranger and has earned the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Action Badge, among other awards.
Noting that the Army and its sister services will be directly impacted by the unit's actions, Pinnell told those attending the ceremony, "Our leaders need honest, detailed, serious assessments of the equipment, formations and TTPs they ask us to examine, and they will get just that-as they always have." He concluded his remarks by thanking the Lanes for their support, friendship and leadership.