A change in Cyber Brigade leadership is a mixed blessing

June 15, 2018

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. – Col. Dave Branch relinquished command of the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber), after two very successful years, to Col. Brian Vile in a change of command ceremony hosted by Maj. Gen. Gary Johnston, commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), on the McGlaclin Parade Field June 14.

Maj. Gen. Johnston spent a significant portion of his time, both before and during the ceremony, praising Col. Branch and highlighting the “momentous and memorable” achievements of the brigade Soldiers and Army Civilians during his tenure as its commander.

“The Army and the Nation recognizes what you do for the cyber force,” Johnston commented. “Throughout all the efforts of the current fight, things that you are doing are just amazing. Your mission is vital to the intelligence enterprise, to the operators, and your activities are clear evidence of the significance of what you do.”

Johnston said he was the beneficiary of the efforts of the 780th and couldn’t thank the organization enough.

“During the last two years the 780th has become a multi-faceted unit, using all-source intelligence, signals intelligence, and open source intelligence, to inform teams and secure infrastructure, providing informed intelligence support to cyberspace,” said Johnston. “In response to demand, the operations have increased exponentially.”

He then discussed the brigade’s accomplishments in the previous two years under the professional and calm leadership of Col. Branch.

“Under Col. Branch’s command of the 780th, you supported multiple commands of four different combatant commands. You brought 21 cyber mission teams to full operational capability, the first of any service to meet this milestone achievement,” said Johnston. “Whether the 780th was implementing a unique cyber crew team training model or expanding cyber capabilities to Corps and below, Col. Branch’s innovative approach ensured unit development, measurable standards, and successful outcomes.”

“You didn’t just focus on today’s fight, you were focused on tomorrow’s fight,” said Johnston. “By supporting four National Training Center rotations, fully integrating elements into expeditionary cyber support teams, embedding with the unit during home-station training, as well as during the rotation itself.”

Maj. Gen. Johnston closed his remarks by welcoming Col. Vile and his Family to the INSCOM team and the cyber force. Vile is coming from his last position as the deputy director of the U.S. European Command’s Joint Cyber Center where he synchronized and integrated cyberspace operations into the command’s plans and operations. He is a former infantry officer with operations, cyber, and information operations experience.

“He is the perfect selection for this command,” said Johnston. “His war college fellowship at Carnegie Mellon, work at CYBERCOM to build operational models for the joint information environment, establishing the Army’s first regional cyber center, and his cyber expertise will help shape the future of this unit as well as the Army.”

It is always a bittersweet moment to say goodbye to a commander who has meant so much to the organization; however, knowing Col. Branch’s next assignment is the executive officer for the commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, Lieutenant General Stephen G. Fogarty, and that he will continue to have an impact on the brigade, is a blessing.

In his farewell remarks, Col. Branch thanked the team of Soldiers and Civilians, and his Family, especially his wife Lori, for their support. In his remarks, Branch told the Soldiers, Civilians, and Family members the story of Charles Plumb, a Naval aviator whose plane was shot down over Vietnam following his 75th combat mission. Plumb successfully ejected from his plane and was held captive by the North Vietnamese for more than six years. Years later, while he was at dinner with his wife, a man approached him and stated he had packed the parachute Plumb used after ejecting from his stricken aircraft, and it struck Plumb of the importance of teamwork.

“What this Brigade has accomplished, and what we will continue to achieve, requires and is reliant upon teamwork,” said Branch. “I challenge myself and each of you today, to not lose sight of the fact that there are a great many Soldiers and Civilians figuratively ‘packing our parachutes’. These fine men and women make our mission success possible. I am truly blessed to have served with each of you. Success is in your DNA. I look forward to seeing what this mighty brigade accomplishes next as it remains ‘Everywhere and Always. In the Fight!’”

In addition to thanking Maj. Gen. Johnston and Lt. Gen Fogarty for the opportunity to lead the Soldiers and Civilians of the 780th, Vile said he wants to continue to move the organization forward as Branch has done.

“Dave, you’ve done an outstanding job moving the brigade forward and maturing the domain,” said Vile. “And I can only hope to match your contributions to the force. Your impact on the 780th, the Army, and CyberCom, will be felt long into the future.”