FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Pledging his devotion to his new command, Lt. Col. Edmund J. Barrett assumed the leadership of Headquarters Command Battalion in a change of command ceremony Friday on McGlachlin Parade Field.

"I feel very fortunate to have been picked to take this formation," said Barrett, 47, who resides in Odenton. "I can promise you my hard work and passionate devotion to this place and its families, every day. It is truly my honor to work for you."

Barrett assumed command from Lt. Col. Thomas A. Boone, who will deploy to Afghanistan with I Corps out of Fort Lewis, Wash., after leading Headquarters Command Battalion for two years.

Installation Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas passed the guidon to Barrett during the 45-minute event that featured the 257th Army National Guard Band.

Various units stood on the parade field including Headquarters and Headquarters Company; the 241st Military Police Detachment; Bravo Company, Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion; Army Signal School Detachment; the National Security Agency color guard; and two K-9 teams.

Congressional representatives and leaders of Fort Meade directorates and organizations also attended including Lt. Col. Howard T. Yates, director of the Directorate of Emergency Services; Col. Gary Keck, commandant of the Defense Information School; Col. Thomas Palmatier, commander of the U.S. Army Field Band; and Col. David Hembree, commander of Fort Meade Dental Activity.

"[Lt. Col.] Barrett has a great background, 20 years plus of military experience," Yates said. "I look forward to working with him."

Headquarters Command Battalion provides support services, law enforcement, military working dog teams, force protection and base support operations to the Fort Meade community.

Headquarters Command Battalion and Headquarters Company was established Feb. 9, 1971, as a subordinate element of the Military District of Washington. In October 2002, HCB became a sub-element of the Installation Management Agency, which became the Installation Management Command in 2006.

In welcoming Barrett, Thomas said he was selected for his current command because the Army "knows he will succeed here, as he has in all his duties since he enlisted. ... We are privileged to have an officer of your caliber join the garrison team, and we welcome you to our family."

During his remarks, Barrett, who previously served in the Office of the Inspector General at the Pentagon, discussed the mission ahead in the face of budget cuts.

"Friends, we have hard work ahead of us," he said. "The belt keeps tightening. An environment of increased mission coupled with decreased resources will force us to be creative to find needed efficiencies."

A native of New Jersey, Barrett enlisted in 1984 on Halloween. After serving a tour in Germany, Barrett attended Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Reserve Officers' Training Corps distinguished military graduate.

He earned a bachelor's degree in economics, a master's degree in public administration and later, a master's in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

During his career, Barrett has served with the 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, 229th MI Battalion, 902nd MI Group and the National Security Agency. He has deployed to Saudi Arabia to support troop withdrawal after Operation Desert Storm, and in Kuwait, Bosnia and twice to Baghdad.

In addition to serving as a military intelligence officer, Barrett also qualified as an inspector general, counterintelligence agent, Army strategist and Middle East foreign area officer.

Barrett met his wife, Kristin, when they were ROTC cadets. "We were college sweethearts," he said.

They married in May after reconnecting on Facebook 18 months ago and have a blended family of two seventh-graders and two 9-year-olds.

Both Barrett and his wife, who left the Army Reserve as a captain, are community volunteers. Barrett coaches youth soccer for the Anne Arundel Soccer Association.

In his closing remarks, Boone welcomed Barrett to the battalion.

"Ed, it has been my pleasure to work with you during this transition," Boone said. "Your vast experience and enthusiasm will be a great addition to the team. ... The Blackberry, parking space and keys are waiting for you at the headquarters. Good luck."

Boone also offered gratitude to Thomas for his guidance and trust. "Thanks for the leniency to let me command the battalion as I saw fit, the trust and confidence in myself and my people," he said.

During his speech, Thomas detailed Boone's achievements at Fort Meade.

"Two years ago, I charged [Lt. Col.] Boone to begin a major transformation in how his unit provided garrison level support," he said. "In effect, [Lt. Col.] Boone and his Soldiers became the utility infielders or go-to receivers for tough missions that needed doing for Fort Meade."

After the ceremony, a reception for Barrett was held at the Courses Clubhouse.

"This is a dream come true," Barrett said of his new command.