Asymmetric Warfare Group welcomes new commander

Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, deputy commanding general/chief of staff, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, passes the colors of the Asymmetric Warfare Group to Col. Timothy F. O’Brien, the unit’s incoming commander, during a change-of-command ceremony Friday at AWG headquarters. (Photos by Sgt. Randis Monroe)

Under a bright blue sky, Col. Timothy F. O’Brien assumed command of the Asymmetric Warfare Group from Col. Michael J. Loos in a ceremony Friday.

The 40-minute change of command took place outside AWG headquarters at 2270 Rock Ave.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be provided the opportunity to join the AWG team,” O’Brien said in his remarks.

“I can’t think of a better job than to be charged with providing our Army and our Soldiers, as well as the broader joint force, with the understanding and tools to defeat our enemies around the globe.”

Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, commanding general/chief of staff, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, praises Col. Timothy F. O’Brien, the new commander of the Asymmetric Warfare Group, during a speech following the change-of-command ceremony.

Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, deputy commanding general, chief of staff at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, was the reviewing officer.

Capt. Jeremy Phillips of AWG was the ceremony’s narrator.

Chaplain (Maj.) Boguslaw Augustyn, a former installation Catholic priest at Fort Meade, gave the invocation.

Distinguished guests included Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander, Army Cyber Command; Thomas Dreco, director of intelligence, TRA]DOC; Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner, deputy commander, Joint Task Forces ARES; and Marine Brig. Gen. Ryan Heritage, deputy director of operations, U.S. Cyber Command.

In his speech following the change-of-command ceremony, MacFarland called O’Brien a “deep bench of talent,” and praised his abilities as a problem solver and strong leader.

Loos served as commander of the AWG for two years.

MacFarland said the Army will benefit from Loos’ “unique talents and experience” in his next assignment, and will rely on Loos to “further our understanding of emerging war-fighter challenges, particularly in dense urban environments.”

Exceptional Commander

O’Brien previously served as the director of Joint Task Force ARES, a Cyber Command task force focused on offensive cyber operations against the terrorist organization ISIL.

From its inception in April 2004, the AWG was immediately deployed in support of combatant operations and was officially activated by the secretary of the Army in January 2006.

The AWG was initially established as a field operating agency under the operational control of the deputy chief of staff for Headquarters Department of the Army and stationed at Fort Meade.

In November 2011, the AWG was assigned to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, directly reporting to the commanding general.

The mission of AWG is to provide operational advisory support and develop rapid operational solutions to the Army and Joint Forces to defeat current and emerging threats, enhance combat effectiveness and inform Army future requirements, according to the AWG website.

In welcoming O’Brien to AWG, MacFarland said he first met the colonel when he was the commanding general at Fort Bliss, Texas. At that time, O’Brien commanded the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Division at Fort Bliss.

MacFarland called O’Brien an “exceptional commander” and said his battalion was a “well-disciplined unit with high morale.”

O’Brien was “one of the best commanders” in the division, MacFarland said, praising the colonel as “clever” and “adaptable.”

A native of south Boston, O’Brien graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and earned a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps commission in the infantry as a Distinguished Military Graduate.

O’Brien’s assignments have included 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Republic of Korea; 6th Ranger Training Battalion, Eglin Air Force Base; 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; and the 4th Ranger Training Battalion, Fort Benning, Ga.

Stellar Organization

Col. Timothy F. O’Brien, the new commander of the Asymmetric Warfare Goup, calls the unit “a stellar organization” during his remarks Friday.

After graduating from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., O’Brien was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Fairbanks, Alaska. He served as the battalion operations officer, executive officer and as a brigade operations officer deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

O’Brien was then assigned to the U.S. Army Pacific as a military exchange officer serving as a joint and combined exercise planner with the Australian army in Sydney.

During his speech, O’Brien thanked MacFarland for the “opportunity to command this outstanding outfit.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that I’ve arrived at a stellar organization,” he said.

In his remarks, Loos compared the AWG with a cactus, and said that the unit “thrives in adverse conditions” and is an “essential element in the flora that enables others to thrive.”

Loos said AWG is “hearty, dependable, high adaptable” and an “understated hero.”

Loos thanked the men and women of AWG and said serving as commander was an incredible privilege and honor. He thanked the unit’s members for their “quiet professionalism and servitude.”

Loos said the Army did a “superb job” in choosing O’Brien for the post.

At the end of his remarks, Loos gave O’Brien a cactus plant as a symbol of his new command.

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