The newly established Special Warfare Education Group (Airborne) formally activated its Headquarters and Headquarters Company during a ceremony May 1 on Fort Bragg, N.C., taking another step toward building a fully manned and equipped organization dedicated to educating U.S. Army special-operations Soldiers.
Col. Paul Ott, the SWEG(A) Commander, officially entrusted Capt. Geoffrey Childs with command of his group's headquarters element. Although not directly responsible for educating Army special-operations Soldiers, Childs's company will support and enable the SWEG(A) staff and faculty, who conduct classes, counseling and exercises for Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations students.
"Like many things in special-operations, this small event has significance well beyond the scope of this ceremony itself," Ott said.
"The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School is leading the way for special operations and the Army in education programs, operationally focused language programs, regional studies and human dynamics," Ott said. "Establishing this command is indicative of the emphasis the SWCS commanding general is placing on education, and how fundamentally important it is to our success in the future."
During the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Barry Grissom -- the SWEG(A)'s senior noncommissioned officer, unfurled the HHC, SWEG(A) guidon for the first time and passed it to Ott in front of a crowd in the John F. Kennedy Auditorium. In turn, Ott passed the guidon to Childs, symbolically handing the commander responsibility for SWEG(A) HHC's mission and Soldiers. To complete the company's activation, Childs handed the guidon to his senior noncommissioned officer, 1st Sgt. Thomas Cunningham.
"We are extremely fortunate to have [Childs] as the first commander for HHC," Ott said. "Geoff is coming to us from the Military Information Support Operations Command, where he excelled as a detachment commander, most notably supporting Combined Joint Task Forces Unified Protector, a NATO headquarters conducting unified operations in Libya."
"I deliberately sought a captain from MISOC, to ensure this command was led and represented by all of the Army special-operations regiments," said Ott, who himself is a Special Forces officer.
Childs was last assigned to SWCS as a Psychological Operations Qualification Course student.
"When I first learned that I would be returning to SWCS to join the newly established Special Warfare Education Group, I immediately recognized the significance of the opportunity," Childs said. "As Nelson Mandela once said, 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.'"
Formerly known as the SWCS Directorate of Regional Studies and Education, the SWEG(A) received authorization to become a formal unit in 2011, which brought with it the task of selecting the group's and subordinate units' command structure and headquarters staff. Based out of Bank Hall on Fort Bragg, the SWEG(A) teaches more than 1,500 students annually to converse in one of seven core languages; runs an intermediate language program for increased familiarity in Pashto, Dari, Urdu and Arabic; runs special-operations assessment and selection programs; manages a physical and mental fitness program for SWCS students and cadre; and maintains relationships with colleges and universities in North Carolina and across the country in order to support special-operations Soldiers' civilian-education goals.