By Summer BarkleyJuly 29, 2011
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan--Col. Michel M. Russell, Sr. assumed command of 401st Army Field Support Brigade from outgoing commander, Col. Richard B. O’Connor, II in a ceremony held at brigade headquarters July 17.
The time-honored change of command ceremony is somewhat of a rarity for a unit deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Today’s Army Force Generation model has units rotating in and out of the battle space for a set period of time with the commander usually remaining in command throughout the deployment. The 401st AFSB is unique in that it is headquartered in Afghanistan with commanders and personnel joining and leaving the unit as their individual assignments dictate.
“You fielded over 6500 MRAPs and put plans in place for 10 RPAT yards; you streamlined battle loss/battle damage replacement; and you were a trusted advisor” said Brig. Gen. Philip R. Fisher, Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan commander, in remarks addressed to O’Connor. “I could always rely on you during my command. Thank you for a job well done.”
In his remarks, O’Connor thanked the “officers, NCO, Army civilians and contractors of the 401st who maintain and sustain the maneuver brigades” and who fielded and sustained hundreds of systems.
“We are the AMC’s face to the field,” he added. “When Gen. Dunwoody [AMC commanding general and Dr. O’Neill [then Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology] visited the 401st, they said ‘401st has gotten the vision of the Materiel Enterprise right’.”
In welcoming Col. Michel M. Russell, Sr. to the command, Fisher told him the 401st mission reminded him of performers who could keep plates spinning on sticks. He said Russell’s job is to “keep all these plates spinning.”
“It is a distinct honor and privilege to lead this brigade,” said Russell. “Team Sabre, all policies and procedures remain in place.”
O’Connor is scheduled to be the Defense Coordination Office, U.S. Army North, director.
The 401st AFSB’s mission is to serve as the single entry point for integration and synchronization for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology between the tactical level and the Materiel Enterprise while enhancing unit readiness and improving combat capability; and provide field and sustainment level logistics for both U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan in accordance with Joint Sustainment Command " Afghanistan and U.S. Forces " Afghanistan priorities and is accomplished by more than 41,000 Soldiers, Department of Army civilians and contractors at locations across the Afghanistan area of operations.