RELEASE NUMBER: 130122-01
DATE POSTED: JANUARY 22, 2013
91st CAB (A) gets new commander
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Jan. 22, 2013) – Lt. Col. Christopher Pflanz turned over the command of the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) to Lt. Col. Mark Christensen in a ceremony Friday, Jan. 11 at Fort Bragg’s Ritz-Epps Physical Fitness Center.
95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) Commander Col. James Brown, who presided over the morning ceremony, began his remarks by first noting, “For a normal conventional command, this gym would be full of soldiers. But it’s not today, because we’ve got two companies currently downrange, in the fight and anchoring our Nation’s security strategy, and we’ve got another company leaving this week.”
“Today, we’re going to say farewell to a phenomenal leader,” Brown said. Under Pflanz’s leadership, the battalion supported “U.S. Special Operations Command’s number one priority of finishing the current fight, training, preparing and deploying seven companies and the battalion headquarters in support of executing village stability operations in Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Local Police program."
Brown also praised Pflanz’s work in Africa, noting how the battalion increased operational support to Special Operations Command Africa in countering violent extremism and increasing the legitimacy of partner Nation governments across the continent through expanded presence.
“Every conversation we had, I always took away something else, and I think you’ve made me a better commander because of that. It’s the absolute commitment to mission accomplishment that is going to stand out as your legacy,” Brown said.
During a brief battalion formation before the change of command ceremony, Brown had presented Pflanz with the Meritorious Service Medal. Then, during the ceremony, Brown recognized Pflanz by presenting him with the General Winfield Scott Silver Medallion for his contributions to the Civil Affairs Regiment.
Pflanz began his farewell remarks to his Soldiers by first thanking Brown and other officers and non-commissioned officers for their counsel and leadership during his tenure. “In the 91st, we have been exceptionally blessed to have what I consider the most professional and aggressive company command teams….At our most dispersed and heavily deployed period, these commanders, first sergeants, team leaders and team sergeants simultaneously operated in over eight countries and 29 locations. It is staggering to reflect on the skills and abilities of our soldiers and leaders, and the responsibilities and requirements we place upon them.”
In closing, Pflanz thanked his Soldiers. “Soldiers of the 91st, thank you for all you do…as my days here in U.S. Army Special Operations Command come to a close, I can certainly say I am going to miss our critical mission, and, more importantly, the fine people who take the challenge to execute these demanding missions.”
After thanking his wife and family members for their support during long separations and “difficult and challenging times,” Pflanz said that he was confident in leaving the battalion in the command of Christensen. “Actually, I am positive of that, as Mark [Lt. Col. Christensen] was my company commander in E/96 and a great friend for the past six-plus years.”
Christensen began his remarks as the battalion’s new commander by first noting, “…it is important to remember those who can’t join us—our friends and teammates who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, and those Soldiers from this unit who are deployed around the world, making sure that the light from freedom’s torch continues to shine brightly.”
Christensen closed his remarks by addressing his new Soldiers. “To the 91st team, your reputation precedes you, and I am humbled and honored to be your commander. I look forward to the opportunity and the challenge.”
The new commander of the 91st CA Battalion was commissioned as an Armor officer after receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin. His first duty assignments were with the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment at Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany. After advanced officer training, he was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry at Fort Stewart, Ga., serving as the squadron operations officer and twice as a troop commander.
After completing the CA Qualification Course, Christensen was assigned to the 96th CA Battalion in 2003, serving as a CA team leader, battalion training officer and company commander. After completing the Command and General Staff Officer Course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he was assigned to the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group as the Group’s CA Planner.
Christensen has deployed as an Armor officer to Macedonia in 1997, Kuwait in 1999 and to Bosnia in 2001. As a CA officer, he has deployed as a CA team leader and company commander to Iraq in 2004 and 2007, and as a CA team leader and Asymmetric Warfare Group liaison officer to Afghanistan in 2005 and 2011, and as an operational advisor to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Outgoing 91st Civil Affairs Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Pflanz, is a U.S. Military Academy graduate who previously served with the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., the 20th Special Forces Group at Glen Arm, Md., and with the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion at Fort Bragg. Pflanz then served as an observer trainer in the J-7 Deployable Training Team for the Joint Forces Command, Suffolk, Va., before returning to Fort Bragg to assume command of the 91st CA Battalion. He is now being reassigned to Suffolk, Va. where he will work for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.