Lt. Col. Mark Biehl took the reins of the Army’s largest battalion during a change of command ceremony at the JBM-HH Community Center. Biehl succeeds Lt. Col. Eric Fleming as HQ Bn. commander.
Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commander, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and Military District of Washington, and the Biehl and Fleming Families watched as the time-honored transfer of battalion colors were exchanged.
Following the passing of colors, Biehl thanked his predecessor and addressed the Soldiers, officers, civilian staff and Families he would partner with to continue the battalion’s success.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m honored to share it all with you,” the new HQ Bn. commander said. “Eric, thank you for not only your outstanding leadership for the battalion but for making this transition easy. You’re going to be a hard act to follow.”
Sumpter, the host for the ceremony, first spoke jointly to the outgoing and incoming commanders and their Families and offered personal remarks to each man.
“What a spectacular day for two of the Army’s finest officers,” she said. “As one says farewell and reflects on his unit’s accomplishments and the other anxiously anticipates what lies ahead as he takes command of this fine battalion.”
Sumpter hailed Fleming as an extraordinary coach, teacher, confidant and mentor.
“Lieutenant Colonel Fleming, your professionalism and tactful demeanor and calm execution of orders was nothing short of spectacular,” she added. “I drew comfort from knowing that if you had the mission, it would meet and in many instances, exceed my standards. We all have watched you man Headquarters Battalion with the grace and skill respected by your subordinates and appreciated by our leadership.”
The JBM-HH commander listed Biehl’s past missions and assignments and noted his Army expertise would be invaluable as the leader of Headquarters Battalion.
“Lieutenant Colonel Mark Biehl is a proven Army leader selected to command the largest, most diverse and politically-charged battalion of the United States Army,” Sumpter remarked. “He is airborne-, air assault-, jump master-, SEAL-qualified… a combat-hardened Special Forces officer. He will soon learn that all these acquired skills and experiences have prepared him for this assignment.”
Biehl, a native of Bowie, Md., comes from Fort Bragg, N.C., where he served in the 3rd Special Services Group. With 3rd SFG, Biehl served as commander, group planner and was deployed to Afghanistan as deputy commanding officer of operations. He received his first commission through the United States Military Academy in 1994, and his first assignment was at Fort Hood, where he worked as a platoon leader, company executive officer, assistant brigade engineer and battalion assistant operations officer.
Fleming, the last to address the crowd, pinpointed his comments to those who made his 19-month assignment at JBM-HH fruitful.
“I need to thank most of the people in this room. I can spend the next several hours making that happen,” Fleming said. “Headquarters Command Battalion is like no other battalion in the Army. The unique nature of this organization creates many unique challenges. There is no way to meet these challenges without the assistance of everyone here today, especially my immediate bosses, Major General Linnington and Colonel Sumpter.”
During his farewell remarks, Fleming also personally thanked Jessup, his command sergeant major, and wife, Lisa. He concluded his farewell address with words of advice for Biehl.
“Mark, this is an organization that every job you do is critical and there is a no-fail mission,” the out going commander said. “The best advice I can give you is something my father [retired Col. Harry Fleming] once said: ‘Don’t react, stop, think and then act.’ Take the small victories and use them to motivate those around you. This is a job that requires building relationships. It will be through those relationships where you find command success.”