JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Col. Chris S. Alfeiri relinquished command of U.S. Army Cadet Command’s 5th Brigade to Col. Mark A. Olsen during a change of command ceremony at the Military and Family Readiness Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston June 23.
The 5th Brigade is located at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and is headquartered out of Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Olsen comes to 5th Brigade from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida where he was the Chief of U.S. Special Operations Command’s Transnational Threats Branch. Alfeiri will continue to call Texas his home as he is heading to U.S. Army North at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, where he will serve as the inspector general.
Maj. Gen. John R. Evans Jr., commanding general, U.S. Army Cadet Command, opened the ceremony welcoming guests and highlighting the uniqueness of the change of command due to COVID-19.
“The execution of today’s command is unique to be sure, but Col. Alfieri, Col. Olsen, and the entire 5th Brigade team demonstrated their leadership and resilience as we all adapt to the current operational environment,” Evans noted.
The general explained the bittersweet emotion of a change of command, not only the outgoing commander but also for the higher headquarters commander.
“I think I speak for both myself and Col. Alfieri when I describe our emotions as a mix of excitement and trepidation,” Evans said. “Excitement for all that he’s achieved and what comes next, and trepidation as we farewell a tried and tested member of an incredible team who acquitted himself in an exemplified fashion during the most challenging times this command has ever seen.”
The general further thanked Alfeiri for his excellent leadership and highlighted him as being the best of the best.
“Selection to command at the brigade level is reserved for the very best of the best,” Evans said. “Very few officers who have commissioned have been bestowed this great honor, and I can tell you the Army got it right when they selected him.”
Evans went on to welcome the new commander and his family and stressed his assurance of Olsen commanding the 5th Brigade.
“Mark, you join us at a time of significant transition at Cadet Command in our country. Your experience, dedication and positive attitude precedes you, and I know you are more than up for the task and will fit right in at 5th Brigade,” Evans added. “You are no stranger to selfless service. I’d like to recognize your father’s tenure as a Foreign Service officer and want to thank him for his contribution to the nation. Base on this I have no doubt that your transition and adapting to new cultures is in your blood, and I’m confident you will quickly adjust to your new home here at Cadet Command. I couldn’t be happier to have you on the team.”
Alfeiri took a moment to contribute his last two years of being the 5th Brigade Commander as two of the most rewarding years of his career but also the most challenging.
“I truly feel blessed to be have been given the opportunity to serve with so many talented leaders,” Alfeiri said. “I thank our senior leaders and Maj. Gen. Evans for forwarding me this opportunity.”
Alfeiri also thanked the general for his leadership and guidance and also thanked those who supported him, the U.S. Army and the 5th Brigade.
“You motivate me to be a better leader and person,” Alfeiri said. “You have shown me what it means to be a proactive citizen and when the day comes to hang up this uniform, you have shown me that there is much more I can do to support the Army and the community that I live in.”
Alfeiri also congratulated Olsen and his family for joining the 5th Brigade team.
“Welcome to the Apache Brigade and San Antonio. It’s a great command, a great team and a great community. I know you’re going to enjoy it.”
The new commander of the 5th Brigade then took a few moments to share his appreciation.
“It is a tremendous honor and responsibility to command at any level in the United States Army,” Olsen said. “I am only here due to the training, education, mentorship and professionalism of countless officers, NCOs, soldiers, teachers and coaches who have shaped me in my life. It’s a great day to be joining the 5th Apache Brigade and the U.S. Army Cadet Command team.”