NY Army National Guard Colonel Jamey Barcomb, an Amherst resident, takes command of Buffalo-based 153rd Troop Command over the phone
Leadership of 1,600-Soldier unit changes command over a conference call due to social distancing measures
BUFFALO, NY (05/04/2020) NewYork Army National Guard Col. Jamey Barcomb, an Iraq War veteran and Amherst resident, took command of the 153rd Troop Command Brigade in a virtual ceremony on Sunday, May 3.
Barcomb took over from Col. Michael Fowler, a Town of Greece resident and Chief Deputy with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, who headed the brigade since 2017 and is retiring after 30 years of military service.
The 153rd Troop Command, with a strength of 1,600 Soldiers is headquartered at the historic Connecticut Street Armory in Buffalo and is the higher headquarters for the 102nd Military Police Battalion in Auburn, the 204th Engineer Battalion in Binghamton, and the 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion in Schenectady.
Normally, a change of command would involve a formation of troops with battalion commanders and their flags present. The incoming and outgoing commanders would transfer the 153rd Troop Command's flag - or colors - to signify the transfer of authority.
The ceremony dates back to the days when the military unit's flag indicated the location of the commander on the battlefield. The transfer of the flag from one commander to another allowed Soldiers to see the leader they would follow on the battlefield.
The Sunday ceremony made history by being the first for the New York Army National Guard to be conducted virtually. Because of current social distancing requirements, the traditional ceremony was replaced with a teleconference.
Senior military leaders, friends, and family members called in and followed along with a slide presentation narrated by the brigade's personnel officer.
Barcomb and Fowler spoke from offices in the armory, while Brig. Gen. Jack James, commander of the 53rd Troop Command, presided over the ceremony from his home.
In his remarks, Barcomb noted that 300 of the troop command soldiers are currently deployed in support of the New York National Guard's COVID-19 response.
"These are unprecedented times, but the National Guard's responses to times like these are not unprecedented," Barcomb said. "Throughout our history, as an organization, we have stood strong, remained ready and answered the call when needed."
The 153rd Troop Command is currently responsible for overseeing National Guard emergency response operations in Western New York in conjunction with the 107th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard.
James called the day bittersweet as he bid farewell to Fowler.
"You led American soldiers both in harm's way and on numerous state active duty missions over thirty years," James said to Fowler.
The 153rd Troop Command supported multiple civil support operations and relief efforts during Fowler's command, including Snowstorm Stella, and Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Under his leadership, the command's soldiers mobilized and moved millions of dollars of equipment to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in less than 72 hours. It was the fastest overseas response time for New York Army National Guard elements in New York State history.
In his final address to his soldiers, Fowler said he wondered throughout his career if he was making a difference, but found there were key times when he knew he was.
"The most difference came from working alongside some of the best men and women in America," Fowler said. "People that share the commitment and dedication to make a difference. When a team like that comes together you can accomplish so much and it creates a legacy you can be proud of."
In welcoming him to the role of brigade commander, James lauded Barcomb's diverse professional experience.
"I look forward to him taking charge of the 153rd Troop Command at a critical time for our country and our community," James said.
Barcomb, who grew up in Albany, has served for more than 27 years in the active duty Army, U.S. Army Reserve, and the National Guard.
He was commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer through Army ROTC in 1992 and has held various positions, including company and battalion command.
His most recent job was chief of cyber management at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham.
Barcomb deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the 98th Training Division of the U.S. Army Reserve as a Military Transition Team Leader embedded with an Iraqi Infantry Battalion.
He participated in overseas training exercises in Japan in 2008 and South Korea in 2017, and was mobilized in response to hurricanes Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012, as well as in response to Western New York's winter storm in 2019.
Barcomb is a graduate of the Field Artillery Officer Basic and Advance Courses, Combined Arms Services and Staff School, Joint Operations Fires and Effects Course, Intermediate Level Education, Support Operations Course, Army Information Operations Officer Course, and U.S. Army War College.
He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business from Niagara University, a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Canisius College, and a Master's Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.
In his civilian career, Barcomb is a Compliance Section Chief with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
His awards and decorations include the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, New York Exercise Support Ribbon, New York Humane Service Medal, Basic Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and the Combat Action Badge.
Barcomb and his wife, Colleen, have three children: Michael, Laura, and Thomas.