News: 333rd Military Police Brigade changes command
Story by Spc. Kathryn Summerhill
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Moving onto bigger and better things typically comes with mixed emotions.
At Hofstra University’s Practice Field dome, those mixed emotions were put in the spotlight for Brig. Gen. Michael Smith.
Smith was the commanding general of the 333rd Military Police Brigade, until Aug. 23, 2012 when he relinquished command after receiving orders to First Army Command to be deputy commanding general, and pick up his second star.
But Smith’s time at the 333rd wasn’t your run-of-the-mill tour.
During his time with the brigade, Smith spent the majority of his tenure preparing the soldiers for a tour in Afghanistan; a tour he won’t get to serve out with his soldiers he spent many training hours and experiences with.
“While I’m disappointed in not being able to go, I am so pleased that General Churn has the opportunity to lead this command into harm's way and take on a tremendously important mission,” explained Smith.
However, his new mission at First Army will not be an easy one by any means. First Army serves as the validating officials for all deploying Reserve units, meaning Smith and his new command will now be responsible for saying that, yes indeed, the 333rd is ready and prepared to go to Afghanistan.
If you ask soldiers of the 333rd about Smith’s new post and responsibility, there was no mistake in him being promoted there.
“General Smith is the right guy for the job, very squared away general,” said 1st Sgt. Gregory Remenicky, first sergeant of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 333rd MP Brigade.
While leaving is bittersweet for Smith, he understands it comes with the job.
“A sign of being a good leader is being able to step away when you are called to another task. The same way [General] Churn is being pulled away from his assignment,” explained Smith.
During the change of command ceremony, Smith relinquished command of the 333rd to Brig. Gen. Phillip Churn, who has served as deputy director for operations, and chief of current operations, JTF-Guantanamo at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, deputy commanding general at the 200th Military Police Command in Fort Meade, Md., and director, Afghanistan Detention and Corrections Advisory Team, Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
During the ceremony, Churn spoke and highlighted the great work Smith did with the brigade during his time in leadership.
“He has laid the groundwork and structure for success in this command,” said Churn.
“As a commander coming in, you have to do your commanders assessment, but there was nothing that I had to change, nothing I had to alter. He had the brigade pointed in the right direction.”
Churn also had positive words for Smith’s next post.
“We could not have asked for a better representative for the Army Reserves, he understands the Army Reserves. The Army picked the right person. They got it right.”
Now Churn takes on the task of taking the HHC element of the 333rd downrange to Afghanistan for a nine-month tour, which began right after he assumed command.
“This great. I am confident of the capabilities of the soldiers of this command,” said Churn.
“The talent that we have here is just outstanding.”