On July 26 at the Patch High School Gymnasium, Patch Barracks, Maj. Gen. Frank J. Kisner bid farewell to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians he led for two years as the commander of Special Operations Command Europe.
In traditional military custom, the unit’s colors were passed from U. S. European Command Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Jack Gardner to incoming SOCEUR Commander Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, ending Kisner’s tenure.
Prior to the ceremony, Kisner was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal for outstanding leadership during his time as commander. Kisner, who was confirmed on May 5 for promotion to lieutenant general, will serve next as the Commander, NATO Special Operations Headquarters, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Belgium.
“During the last few years, SOCEUR, under Frank Kisner’s command, has had a profound impact on our mission in Europe, U.S. Africa Command’s mission in Africa and the U.S. effort in Afghanistan,” Gardner said. “During this period, SOCEUR was involved in the deployment of over 1,500 personnel in the EUCOM, AFRICOM and [U.S. Central Command] areas of responsibility.”
Gardner added, “Perhaps most noticeable was the command’s impact on special operations forces across Europe and the great partnerships they have built with many countries, particularly with respect to the key role many of these partner nations’ [special operations] forces have played in Afghanistan.”
Kisner then came to podium and addressed the SOCEUR service members for the final time.
He praised all of the sub-components in particular — 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Naval Special Warfare Unit 2, 352nd Special Operations Group, and the SOCEUR Signal Detachment, “for what you bring in support of the nation each day,” Kisner said.
Kisner acknowledged the EUCOM directors, the EUCOM Inter-Agency team, EUCOM components, Special Operations Command Africa, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart and SOCEUR personnel for their support, leadership and valued commitment during his time in command.
Repass was introduced by Gardner as a Special Forces leader with a wealth of expertise and experience. He joins SOCEUR after serving as the commander of U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C.
“Throughout his career, Mike has served in a range of conventional, joint and special operations assignments that make him exactly the right guy for this command, and at a critical time in our nation’s history, an important time in Europe, and an extremely important time in our effort in Afghanistan,” Gardner said. “We are lucky to have him join the U.S. team in Europe.”
Repass is serving his second tour with SOCEUR, where he previously served as the deputy commanding general from February 2006 to June 2008.
“Linda and I are thrilled to be back among you after a two-year absence,” Repass said. “We took the time at Fort Bragg to feed and grow, and to learn a few things about the Title 10 side of Army special operations and how things work on the service-centric side of SOF.”
No stranger to history, Repass mentioned that our nation must be prepared for major contingency response missions and that it is imperative for SOF personnel to be ready for the calling.
“We should not stand idly by while dark clouds grow on the horizon and ill winds blow into our face,” Repass said. “In this regard, there is surely enough work for us all in the next few years.”
He concluded his first remarks as the new SOCEUR commander by saying how honored he was to take command of “such a broadly capable force of battle-experienced warriors.”