The 111th Military Intelligence Brigade began its change of command ceremony on Chaffee Parade Field with two special events to bid farewell to its outgoing Commander Col. Richard “Mike” Monnard, and to welcome incoming Commander Col. Kevin Wilkinson, June 27.
Customary to some change of command ceremonies but rarely performed on post, the Military Intelligence Corps Band participated in a “Sound Off.” During the ceremonial tradition, the band played three chords, the “Three Cheers.” Then they marched in performance in front of the troops on the field before returning to their original position.
After the national anthem, attendees drew their attention from the field to the sky as they watched an RC-12 aircraft fly above as a tribute to the outgoing commander. Pilots and crews train on the twin-engine aircraft as part of the 111th MI Brigade’s mission.
Earlier in his career, Monnard served as an air defense officer for the 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Battalion, and later became division cavalry squadron S2 and regimental S2 for the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, during the 1990s. In 2004, Monnard served as G2 planner for the XVII Airborne Corps, also at Fort Bragg.
After the flyover, the ceremony continued in the traditional manner with the passing of the colors and commanders’ remarks.
During the ceremony, event host, Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, commanding general, United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, offered his views on Monnard’s leadership.
“What’s really important is to talk about what it means to command,” he said. “While Mike’s accomplishments have been many, it’s not my intent to speak about the various metrics associated with his time as commander of the 111th, although they are truly impressive, but rather to share with you my observations of Mike over the past year, that it’s been my honor to watch this tremendous leader in action.”
Ashley said Monnard has displayed all the traits of an outstanding commander — character, competence and commitment in addition to earning the trust of those he led.
“What drives Mike matters to us all — preparing these Soldiers to be resilient leaders of character, ready to perform their combat mission,” Ashley said.
In his farewell speech, Monnard highlighted the brigade’s three main accomplishments — reestablishing accountability through simple, basic Soldier skills; instilling commitment through understanding fundamental responsibilities and use of mission command; and building trust by encouraging initiative and holding people accountable.
“During the last two years we have reorganized and reshaped the entire brigade, balancing the battalions, adding functional courses and even switching headquarters locations and barracks to maximize building space utilization,” he said, also acknowledging the addition of the Weinstein Village Dining Facility.
Monnard will cross the Atlantic Ocean to get to his new duty station.
Monnard’s next assignment will take him and his Family to Vicenza Italy, where he will serve as G2 for the United States Army Africa Command.
In an April 21 interview by Lori Tagg, USAICoE command historian, the outgoing commander explained that while he was looking forward to the change, the transition would be a completely different experience. Monnard also reflected upon his time as brigade commander.
“The last thing I would say, the experience has been phenomenal,” he said in the interview. “Has it changed me? I think it’s made me a better leader. I think it’s made me a better officer.”
Monnard relinquished command to Wilkinson, whose last assignment was with the Defense Intelligence Agency, serving as deputy for the Americas Regional Center.
This isn’t Wilkinson’s first time on Fort Huachuca or with the 111th MI Bde. In 2008, he assumed a two-year command of the 309th Military Intelligence Battalion.
During the ceremony, the incoming commander shared his thoughts on leadership and how to accomplish it.
“Leaders and Soldiers of the 111th MI Brigade, we are in the business of leading, training and developing Soldiers and leaders … and we will do just that,” Wilkinson said. “We will do it through mentorship, by enforcing standards, maintaining our technical and tactical proficiency and remaining committed to the mission, while treating all with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
At the conclusion of his remarks, Ashley shared an important message he hoped those in attendance would take away.
“As we highlighted here today, leadership is not about a position, it’s about a choice.”