News: Command Sgt. Maj. Cassel turns over responsibility of 92nd CA Battalion soldiers to Command Sgt. Maj. Palacios
Story by Leslie Ozawa
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - “We gave you a colossal task two years ago, when we asked you to literally build a unit from the ground up. You were the first soldier in the battalion! In fact, the only soldier for a while,” said Lt. Col. Peter J. Hebert, 92nd Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) commander, as he praised Command Sgt. Maj. James A. Cassel, Jr., during the battalion’s change of responsibility ceremony, Aug. 10.
The ceremony highlight was the passing of the Army sword from Cassel to the battalion’s new senior enlisted adviser, Command Sgt. Maj. Aldo Palacios, only its second, since it was constituted in 2009 and activated, Oct. 14, 2011.
In his remarks to the battalion’s soldiers and dozens of ceremony guests gathered at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum’s theater, Hebert continued, “Your HRC [Human Resources Command] kung fu went to work quickly and you brought good soldiers and officers to the command …. You were charged with the task of building a Special Operations battalion to standard—with all that implies …. That we were able to deploy two fully trained and ready companies and parts of our battalion headquarters … within months of activation, and more importantly, that they have successfully executed difficult and exceptionally dangerous village stability operations in Afghanistan, and are returning home soon, alive and well, is a testimony to your leadership.
“Our third company to deploy from your initial building efforts has likewise taken on a complex mission in Europe, and has, in its first few months on the job, established a solid reputation as a ‘go-to’ asset for SOCEUR [Special Operations Command Europe] — a direct result of the climate of excellence fostered in the command from the beginning.
“Your example, your compassion, the sound advice and solid training you gave this battalion, have given our nation another arrow in its quiver of elite units, and are a fitting cap to a career of more than 15 years in Special Operations and almost 23 years in service to the United States.”
Cassel’s career as an Army noncommissioned officer has spanned almost the entire history of the major expansion of the active duty Civil Affairs Force at Fort Bragg. In July 2001, he served as first sergeant for the Headquarters Company of its first battalion, the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion. His other assignments include serving as one of the battalion’s Civil Affairs team sergeant and team leader, to the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade operations sergeant major, followed by duty as the command sergeant major of its fifth and final battalion, as part of the Army’s plan for the growth of its Civil Affairs active-duty force.
In his final remarks to his soldiers, Cassel noted, “Today is not about me. It’s about the soldiers within the 92nd Civil Affairs Battalion, who performed outstanding [achievements] over the past two years, from an undermanned or limited experienced staff, to four line companies, three of which are currently deployed …. Thanks to my first sergeants…you all sat in my office listening to me yell about everything from shots to training. You did not take it personal. You all took it professionally and made it happen.”
In his first remarks as the Battalion’s command sergeant major, Palacios thanked the many noncommissioned officers and sergeants major who have helped him in his career, including those at the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion, where he served as the battalion’s operations sergeant major. “You have all had an impact on my career. You don’t make CSM by yourself and I thank you,” Palacios said.
Turning to Cassel, Palacios said, “Command Sgt. Maj. Cassel, Jimmy, you have done a great job with the battalion…you have given everything to this battalion, and I hope I can measure up to the standard you have set, and the bar is very high.”
A native of Illinois, Palacios entered military service as a Marine infantryman in 1988. He entered the U.S. Army in 1995 at Fort Lewis, Washington. He served with the 505th Parachute Regiment at Fort Bragg and the 28th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C., before graduating from the Civil Affairs qualification course in 2003 and serving with the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, and 91st Civil Affairs Battalion.
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