Col. Fiala takes command of 7th WTB

Story and photo by Jeremy S. Buddemeier
USAG-G managing editor

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — More than 100 Soldiers and family members gathered at the Grafenwöhr Field House March 6 for the 7th Warrior Training Brigade’s change of command ceremony.

Col. Christine Anne Fiala, who took the reins from outgoing commander Col. Melvin Jones Jr., will now lead the brigade.

Following the time-honored tradition of passing the colors from the outgoing to the incoming commander, Brig. Gen. Jimmie Jaye Wells, 7th Civil Support Command commander, removed the mic from the podium, walked to center stage and addressed the audience in a casual manner.

“I’m going to rattle off some numbers: 3,298, 1,825, 1,479,” said General Wells before explaining the significance of each number and its relation to the 7th Warrior Training Brigade’s success under Colonel Jones. For example, 1,479 referred to the number of days in which Colonel Jones served as commander of the brigade.

Of specific note were the 21 separate accreditation certifications 7th WTB Soldiers achieved during his four-year stint as commander. Acquiring and maintaining these certifications was no small task, as Soldiers must be certified by the specific school and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. As a result, the brigade was designated by TRADOC as an Institution of Excellence in 2010, which is the highest rating an institution can receive.

During his light-hearted address, Colonel Jones thanked his Soldiers and superiors for their support.

“For the brigade, it was like the Super Bowl on a monthly basis. My next task is to put the unit in for a superior multitasker award,” he said, referring to the myriad opportunities in which the brigade had excelled. “Thank you so much for doing this with class.”

In addition to several references to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Colonel Jones said it was fitting that Colonel Fiala was assuming command in March, effectively bridging the gap between Black History Month and Women’s History Month in March.

Though Colonel Fiala is the new commander of the brigade, she is “no stranger to the command,” General Wells said.

Colonel Fiala previously served with the unit as an operations officer, course instructor, course director and battalion commander.
Colonel Fiala, who said the incoming commander’s remarks are traditionally brief, kept her speech to the point.

After thanking her superiors for their trust, confidence and support in choosing her to lead, she thanked the Soldiers of her new brigade for allowing her to be their commander.

“It’s an absolute honor to come home as your commander,” said Colonel Fiala, who returned last month from a yearlong deployment to Iraq.

During deployment, she served as the chief of staff and director of strategic communication for the Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission – Ministry of Defense, U.S. Forces-Iraq, and as the director of the English Language Training Program.
The 7th WTB, which currently has 119 assigned Soldiers, trains, educates and develops Reserve and active component Soldiers in the U.S. Army Europe area of responsibility. The unit has been based in Grafenwöhr since 1997, and is the oldest Army Reserve unit in Europe. It supports the 21st Theater Sustainment Command via the 7th Civil Support Command, which is based on Daenner Kaserne in Kaiserslautern.