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By Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Free
19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Utah Army National Guard
Col. Paul Peters relinquished command of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) to Col. Brian “Tony” Pazzaglia during a change-of-command ceremony held at the Aaron R. Butler Readiness Center on Camp Williams, Utah, Aug. 20, 2022.
Change-of-command ceremonies are a time-honored military tradition to mark the formal transfer of authority and responsibility from one unit commander to another.
"Family serves right alongside us, and they are critical for our success," said Brig. Gen. Charlene Dalto, Land Component commander, Utah Army National Guard. For this reason, at the opening of the ceremony, representatives of the 19th SFG(A) presented Col. Peters’ wife, Heather, with a bouquet of red roses in full bloom, in recognition of her sacrifices for the unit. Col. Pazzaglia’s wife, Tara, was then presented with a bouquet of budding yellow roses, to represent new beginnings.
Commenting on Peters’ leadership style, Brig. Gen. Dalto said, "Your Soldiers have always been at the forefront of your decisions." Afterwards, addressing Pazzaglia, the incoming commander, she added “Adjutant General Turley and I have full trust and confidence in you.”
The change-of-command ceremony culminated with the outgoing commander, Peters, passing the unit’s colors to the incoming commander, Pazzaglia, symbolically relinquishing responsibility and authority of the 19th SFG(A).
“It's been an absolute honor to serve with you,” Peters said. “The 19th is an organization that is second to none. No kidding, this has been the best experience of my 30-year career, and it's because of you, the Soldiers I've worked with."
Peters joined the Utah Army National Guard in 1992, where he was assigned to the 211th Aviation Regiment. Later, he attended Officer Candidate School earning his commission in the Infantry branch, and joined the 19th SFG(A). After completing the Special Forces Qualification Course, he was assigned to Operational Detachment Alpha 934, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 19th SFG(A).
Peters went on to say the 19th Special Forces Group was among the best in the National Guard. “I'll say that again,” Peters reemphasized. “The 19th Special Forces Group is the premier unit in the National Guard.”
Peters’ assignments include Special Forces Detachment commander, battalion S1, battalion assistant S3, Training Company commander, Group assistant S3, Special Forces Company commander, Special Operations Command and Control Element deputy commander, Group S3, Group executive officer, Special Forces Battalion commander, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula deputy commander, and finally the 19th SFG(A) commander.
Brig. Gen. Derek Lipson, deputy Commanding General, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) pointed out that while Peters was in command, the 19th had its highest operations tempo ever. There were 17 unit-level mobilizations including the most rapid callup and deployment of more than 200 Soldiers in response to protests in the nation’s capital, as well as numerous other activities at the state and federal level.
“Today is about the accomplishments of the 19th Special Forces Group and I couldn't be more impressed with what you've done for the 19th, the state of Utah, and the nation,” said Lipson.
In his opening remarks, the incoming commander, Pazzaglia, thanked Peters for what he has done with the organization. “Over the past couple weeks, I have witnessed firsthand the great team you developed, and couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to both maintain and build on your success.”
In 2005, Col. Pazzaglia attended the Special Forces Qualification Course and served in the 20th Special Forces Group, and other special operations assignments, including Special Forces Detachment commander, company commander, operations officer, and battalion Special Operations Task Force commander. Pazzaglia has most recently served as deputy commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Somalia and as deputy commander of operations of 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
"I promise you my unwavering devotion to your success and the success of our organization," said Pazzaglia.
The 19th SFG(A) mans, trains, equips, and deploys Special Operations Forces to conduct Special Warfare globally as directed by U.S. Special Operations Command. The 19th SFG(A) is headquartered in Utah, with elements in California, Washington, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Ohio, Montana, Colorado, and Texas. The 19th SFG(A) sends Soldiers to all corners of the world for training and deployments, directly impacting the safety and security of the nation. Group elements in their individual states also respond to homeland threats, disasters, or other domestic missions as directed by their respective governors.
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