MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. " In front of Zeppelin hangers from a bygone era, Col. Wayne Tasler said goodbye to the 7th Psychological Operations Group, which he has commanded for the past two and a half years June 25.
“This will be the last time a PSYOP Group will change command," Tasler said in front of a few hundred PSYOP soldiers assembled before him, "we will have to change our name but not what we do; and what we do is provide, a unique ability to persuade, change and influence foreign target audiences through non-lethal methods, which is critical to the success of our nation’s wars,” said Tasler.
The name change has been a hot-button issue in the PSYOP community and the grumblings have been heard up and down the chain of command, "A similar name will be determined, one that we will be proud of and that will carry on our legacy." Tasler assured his soldiers during his farewell speech at the change of command.
While the 7th POG’s name may still remain in question, its new commander is on the ground ready to lead. "I accepted my commission because I wanted to lead," said Lt. Col. Miguel Castellanos, 7th POG’s new commander. If you’re a 7th POG soldier the name should be familiar, after having served the last few years as the Group’s Deputy Commander, Castellanos has been chosen to be its new top leader. "I am honored that Maj. Gen. Blackledge has given me this opportunity" Castellanos said during his speech. “To the soldiers of 7th POG you have my commitment, I will give you my best; this is my only option.”
The group’s already high operational tempo has not gone unnoticed, especially by the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) Commanding General, David N. Blackledge. “I talk about our high OPTEMPO to other general officers and they always ask how the command has been able to maintain that. I attribute it directly to the quality and dedication of our soldiers. Unlike many soldiers in the Army who deploy and wonder what they did to affect the war, our CAPOC soldiers can see the results they've influenced” said Blackledge at the ceremony.
The command’s soldiers were also praised by both in-coming and out-going commanders who both noted the exceptional quality of soldiers within the command. “The quality of the soldiers is phenomenal, what makes it difficult is the OPTEMPO,” said Castellanos. An OPTEMPO that is one of the highest in the Army, and that that only stands to accelerate over the next few years. “I look to pick up our operational tempo a notch more, there is still much work to be done. Dwindling resources, both in manpower and money, will continue to challenge everything we do. We’ll need to find ways to work more efficiently and implement processes to increase our capacity. There are no other choices,” said Castellanos, who will be facing tough command decisions until the end of his tenure.
However for Tasler and Castellanos, Command is not about hard choices and responsibility, it’s also a gift and an achievement.
“Command is the highlight of any officer’s career; I’m going to miss it a lot. But at the same time, with the experiences I've gained in the last two years and half years, I hope to be able to take that to the Special Operations Command, and hopefully fix some of the issues facing the Reserve Component and the Military Information Support Operations Community,” said Tasler.
“Taking command, if you’re an Officer, that’s what you’re supposed to strive for, you take those jobs that are going to lead you to the positions where you command, for me taking command is what it’s all about,” said Castellanos.
See the complete collection and the 3min 30sec video on Flickr at bit.ly/l9VJ1w