704th MI takes on new leader
Hale "honored" to join th ranks of 704th
By Lisa R. Rhodes
Hale assumed command after attending the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., as a National Security Fellow with the Triangle Institute of Security Studies and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
"I am honored by the opportunity to join your ranks and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead," Hale said to the Soldiers of the brigade during the ceremony. "You have a proud history and a well-earned reputation for excellence. You are the premier signals intelligence unit for our Army."
Gibson relinquishes command after two years. She will deploy to Kabul on Saturday to serve as director of the International Security Assistance Force's Combined Joint Intelligence Operations Center-Afghanistan.
Retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. attended the event.
In addition to the change of command ceremony, there also was a change of responsibility ceremony for outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Don W. Harbin, who will retire after 32 years in the Army, and incoming Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Thornton.
The ceremony began with an invocation by 704th MI Chaplain (Maj.) Damon O'Nellion and music provided by the 392nd Army Service Forces Band of Fort Lee, Va.
The 704th MI conducts synchronized full-spectrum signals intelligence, computer network and information assurance operations directly and through the National Security Agency to satisfy national, joint, combined and Army information superiority requirements, according to its website.
The brigade, which has the motto of "Here and Everywhere," has subordinate battalions at Fort Meade and Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., with additional elements assigned in support of Army and joint commands such as U.S. Central Command, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Army Special Operations Command and Army Forces Command.
Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, commander of U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, said the brigade remains in great hands.
"Colonel Hale is the perfect officer to take this critical brigade to the next level," said Fogarty, noting that Hale has served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fogarty said both Hale and Thornton will "serve these Soldiers well, and I am absolutely confident in your success."
A native of Aulander, N.C., Hale was commissioned in the Military Intelligence Corps though the Reserve Officers' Training Corps at North Carolina State University in 1990.
Prior to attending the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course, Hale served for 2 1/2 years in Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 119th Infantry Regiment, North Carolina Army National Guard.
Hale earned a bachelor's degree in political science from North Carolina State University and a master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island.
His assignments included serving as the Joint Special Operations Command liaison to the National Security Agency, and commanding the 519th MI Battalion, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps.
Fogarty called the 704th MI Brigade an "outstanding brigade," and said its service members "have been exceptionally well led by Colonel Karen Gibson and Command Sergeant Major Harbin."
Fogarty credited the Soldiers for their "dedication, versatility and tactical and technical expertise."
Gibson was praised for standing up the 780th MI Brigade, the first cyber operations brigade in the Army, and for training and deploying more than 280,000 Soldiers around the world, including to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Karen and Don, your team worked tirelessly to set conditions to make significant progress in our signal and cyber capabilities," Fogarty said.
Under Gibson's leadership, the brigade received the Language Program of the Year award from INSCOM and the Department of the Army. The brigade also earned a National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation.
"It is clear that Colonel Karen Gibson has special gifts," Fogarty said. "She is one of our most promising senior military intelligence leaders. She is technically proficient and a quiet professional."
In her remarks, Gibson called the 704th MI "stellar Soldiers" who helped to support the operation to eliminate Osama Bin Laden.
"I am immensely proud of these Soldiers, this unit and their contributions to the Army and the nation," Gibson said. "They are simply magnificent and the best at what they do, and I am as humbled today to be among their ranks as I was when I took the guidon two years ago."
Hale told the Soldiers that he and Thornton pledge their commitment to continued excellence in accomplishing the brigade's mission.
"It is a privilege to be counted among your ranks," he said.
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