By Brandon BieltzJuly 21, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Col. James M. Mis, the former commander of the Asymmetric Warfare Group, handed over the reins of one of the military's most unique organizations to Col. Patrick J. Mahaney Jr. at a change of command ceremony July 14 on McGlachlin Parade Field.
Mis, who relinquished command after two years, has been reassigned as director of operations with Special Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
"Today marks another day in the short history of the Asymmetric Warfare Group as we bid farewell to Colonel Jim Mis and welcome Colonel Pat Mahaney," said guest speaker Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Headquarters, Department of the Army, director of Operations, Mobilization and Readiness.
AWG, whose motto is "Normal is a cycle on a washing machine," was founded in 2006 to provide observation, analysis, training and advisory support for the Army and Joint Force units to enhance their capabilities to predict, mitigate, counter and defeat asymmetric threats and methods.
The goal of the group is to improve asymmetric warfare capabilities of the Army at the operational and tactical levels throughout the full spectrum of conflict. Currently, the AWG consists of 350 members who make up the unit; many of those members operate in about 40 different organizations. Since 2006, the group has conducted nearly 10,000 embeds in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Anderson said that under Mis' tenure, AWG grew to support more commands in such countries as the Philippines, Uganda, Algeria, Mexico, Columbia, Peru and Nepal.
"Jim has certainly been a major player in the recent contributions of this unit's proud history," Anderson said at the ceremony. "It has been both an honor and a privilege for me to serve along side such an outstanding professional."
In his remarks, Mis praised the unit that he has commanded since July 2009.
"Standing before you, my beloved group, I am your most humble servant, your most dedicated admirer and your most grateful student," he said. "I hope I have lived up to the task of being the leader you deserve."
He added that Mahaney will lead the AWG further than he could "only imagine."
"I can think of no more capable hands to leave my warriors in," Mis said.
After graduating in 1987 from New York University with a bachelor's degree in politics and Spanish, Mahaney was commissioned second lieutenant of Military Police from the Fordham University Reserve Officers' Training Corps in New York City.
His first assignment was as a platoon leader in Panama and then in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. In 1991, Mahaney transferred to the Army Special Forces Operations Command (Airborne) and served as a team leader in the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) post at Fort Bragg, N.C.
After graduating in 1994 from the Special Forces Detachment Officer Qualification Course, Mahaney served as a company commander and a battalion commander with the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg and as commander of the Special Operations Task Force-71 in Afghanistan.
He has also served in various staff positions with the Joint Special Operations command at Fort Bragg. In addition, he was director of operations and deputy commanding officer for the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command-Afghanstistan; 1st Battalion executive officer and group operations officer for the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne); and Special Forces division chief for the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg.
Mahaney's operational and combat deployments in 10 different countries include duties in El Salvador, Ecuador and Afghanistan.
He has attended Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School at Fort Bragg; Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga.; the Spanish Army's Command and General Staff College in Madrid; and Italy's Institute for High Defense Studies in Rome. Mahaney also holds a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University in New York and a master's degree in international affairs from the University of Perugia, Italy.
"Colonel Mahaney is the perfect man for this job," Anderson said. "He possesses all the attributes that we desire in our leads in abundance and he stands ready to take charge of this unit without skipping a beat."
During his speech, the New York native talked about seeing the construction of the new Freedom Tower over the site of the 9/11 attacks.
"We are the talented and dedicated people to make all this possible, to create and defend civilization against barbarism and chaos," Mahaney said.
He also discussed the changing threats of the current conflicts and said the AWG will continue to meet the evolving threats of the war.
"To deal with this complex evolving threat, the Army created and sustains the Asymmetric Warfare Group, and the unit will continue to ensure we live up to another simple, solemn, pledge. ... This we will defend," he said.