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NEWS | June 12, 2024

410th Contracting Support Brigade holds change of command

By Staff Sgt. ShaTyra Reed-Cox U.S. Army South Public Affairs

In one of the military’s finest traditions, Soldiers, leaders, Families and friends of the 410th Contracting Support Brigade, welcomed back an exceptional leader and bid farewell to another during a change of command ceremony at the Fort Sam Houston Theater at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, on June 11.

Col. Kenneth Bulthuis assumed command from Col. Daphne Austin in a ceremony officiated by Brig. Gen. Christine Beeler, the commanding general for the Army Contracting Command.

“Today’s ceremony marks the beginning of a new chapter for this great brigade,” Beeler said. “Though we will surely miss Col. Austin, the 410th CSB will continue to excel under Col. Bulthuis. I have confidence that the 410th CSB will continue to meet its challenges head on and excel at accomplishing the mission.”

Bulthuis is no stranger to the 410th CSB or ACC. He comes to the brigade from across post at the Mission and Installation Contracting Command as the strategic initiative group director. He has been a longstanding member of the ACC from Grafenwoehr, Germany to Liberia, Africa to the U.S. Army Expeditionary Contracting Command.

“The Army has a deep bench of talented leaders,” Beeler said. “Col. Bulthuis is a highly respected leader and well thought of within the acquisitions community. You can see his past assignments prepared him well to successfully navigate all the challenges of this command’s complex mission.”

After thanking Beeler for officiating the ceremony and his Family for their support throughout his 25 years of service, Bulthuis expressed his eagerness to lead the brigade.

“I’m excited, humbled, and filled with respect,” he said. “The 410th will continue to pursue flexibility, agility, and adaptability to provide mission-oriented results as the environment changes. As well as capacity, capability, and competency to meet the known and unknown.”

Following the traditional passing of organizational colors from Austin to Bulthuis, Beeler took time to reflect and commended the outgoing commander for her leadership and achievements during her time with the 410th CSB.

“It was three years ago when I hosted the last 410th change of command and welcomed Col. Austin and her family,” Beeler said. “In those three years, this team has much to be proud of. You have made the 410th into an elite and indispensable contracting force for our joint forces and partner nations throughout Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, which is absolutely critical to the security of our nation.”

The 410th CSB has the unique mission of planning and executing contingency contracting support for U.S. Army South in support of Army and Joint Operations throughout the United States Southern Command area of responsibility.

Austin led the brigade through numerous missions, exercises and contract executions since June 2021.

“Col. Austin’s initiatives enabled the organization to grow from its typical 66% to approximately 97%, resulting in the brigade’s ability to project strategic power across the region and achieve effects that extend the United States’ influence with Latin and Central American countries,” Beeler explained. “Additionally, as the Army’s senior contracting official for the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility, Col. Austin led the brigade in achieving initial operating capability for a strategic mission in support of friendly foreign countries participating in an anticipated Multinational Security Support operation in Haiti.”

Beeler continued to highlight the achievements by the brigade during Austin’s tenure which included the execution of 4,800 contract actions valued at more than $300 million, the acquisition support of over 31 countries in the region, multiple USSOUTHCOM situational assessment teams and contingency command post deployment exercises, the execution of six unit contingency contracting evaluations, the execution of six rotational to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Soto Cano Airbase, Honduras, and supporting 25 USSOUTHCOM and USARSOUTH exercises focused on joint-nation partnerships, stability and shaping events; and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Austin acknowledged the last three years at the brigade supporting USARSOUTH have been both gratifying and challenging.

“Maj. Gen. William Thigpen, and all the Army South leaders and directorates, thank you for the trust and confidence in me as the 410th CSB commander and my brigade’s ability to enable Army South’s readiness,” she said. “Over and over again, 410th CSB has been ready, as readiness shapes the Army’s ability to execute military operations and to carry out its responsibilities successfully. The 410th CSB has been ready at every turn, and we understood all the assignments we have executed very well that postured us to deliver the impacts that you needed at the time it was needed.”

Prior to the 410th CSB change of command, Beeler awarded Austin the Legion of Merit for her expertise, leadership and professionalism in the overall success of the unit’s mission directly enabling the capabilities and long-term posture.

“Thank you for your consummate leadership,” she said. “It’s evident that you have made a positive and lasting impact on this organization, on the character of every Soldier, civilian, and family member, and the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston community. This is your legacy; our command is better as a result of your leadership.”