JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Members of the 410th Contracting Support Brigade welcomed their new commander during a change-of-command ceremony June 8 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Col. Daphne Austin assumed command of the brigade from Col. Robert McDonald in a ceremony officiated by Brig. Gen. Christine Beeler, the incoming commanding general for the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
Following the traditional passing of organizational colors from McDonald to Austin, Beeler commended the outgoing commander for his leadership and achievements during his time with the 410th CSB before welcoming its new leader.
“I stand before a brigade that has consistently delivered for the nation at home and around the globe. Your magnificent teamwork serves as a model for the entire Army contracting enterprise. We are thankful for the proven bravery and outstanding leadership of Col. Robert ‘Mack’ McDonald, tested and triumphant in the crucible of 36 months of brigade command,” Beeler said. “We welcome Col. Daphne Austin, abundant in competence, confidence, character and commitment, who is without a doubt prepared for this opportunity and this command.”
Austin comes to the 410th CSB following her assignment as the Mission and Installation Contracting Command chief of staff the past year. After thanking Beeler for officiating the ceremony and her family and parents for their support throughout her 23 years of service, Austin said she is honored to lead the brigade.
“I am indeed proud to serve as your commander. I will do my very best to lead in a way that distinguishes this brigade as the top-notch warfighter enabler that it is, and also amplify that our people are the most important asset of this organization,” Austin said. “We win by taking care of our people, looking up and out and down and in. That means understanding executing in accordance with our higher commander’s intent, while also understanding our roles in delivering the most quality service and support.”
Austin was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Signal Corps through the Army ROTC program at Columbus State University in 1998 and served a number of operational assignments before joining the Army Acquisition Corps in 2007. She has since served in acquisition positions of increasing responsibility as well as deployments to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.
McDonald led the brigade through numerous missions, exercises and contract executions since July 2018. He simultaneously commanded ACC-Afghanistan during a nine-month deployment in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
During the ceremony, McDonald acknowledged the last three years at the brigade have been both gratifying and challenging.
“The 410th with its unique mission of supporting U.S. Army South, U.S. Southern Command and all the other elements within Central and South America coupled with a deployment to Afghanistan and an ongoing pandemic would challenge even the best of leaders,” McDonald said. “What made it successful and easy at times were the Soldiers and civilians within the command. They did it with professionalism and competence.”
Those achievements by the brigade during McDonald’s tenure include the execution of 4,800 contract actions valued at more than $264 million; the acquisition support of 25 exercises focused on joint-nation partnerships, stability and shaping events; and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
McDonald departs for his next assignment as the military deputy for procurement with the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida.
Prior to the 410th CSB change of command, Beeler awarded McDonald the Legion of Merit for his expertise, leadership and professionalism in the overall success of the unit’s mission directly enabling the capabilities and long-term posture of the United States, NATO and Afghanistan National Defense Security Forces. She also presented certificates of appreciation to his wife, Barbara, and daughter, Hannah.
The 410th CSB is responsible for the planning and execution of contingency contracting support for Army South in support of Army and joint operations throughout the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility.