National Guard veteran of Afghanistan takes command of New York's 27th Infantry Brigade this Sunday


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Col. Christopher Cronin

FORT DRUM, N.Y (05/19/2017) (readMedia)-- New York Army National Guard Col. Christopher Cronin, a veteran of combat operations in Afghanistan, takes command of the New York Army National Guard's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Syracuse this Sunday, May 21 in a ceremony in front of brigade Soldiers.

Cronin, a resident of Victor, N.Y., takes command from Col. Joseph Biehler, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who commanded the 27th Brigade Combat Team since 2013.

Both officers previously served as battalion commanders of the National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, headquartered in Utica, N.Y.

Biehler moves on to serve as the deputy commander of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters and has been selected for promotion to general officer. He will receive his star as a brigadier general as part of the ceremony.

WHO: Col. Christopher Cronin, Col. Joseph Biehler, and approximately 120 Citizen Soldiers of the 27th IBCT, their family members, former members and friends.

WHAT: Change of Command Ceremony to formally recognize the transfer of authority for the 27th IBCT from Col. Joseph Biehler, outgoing commander, to Col. Christopher Cronin, the incoming commander. New York Army National Brig. Gen. Steven Ferrari, the commander of the 42nd Infantry Division, will serve as reviewing officer for the ceremony.

WHEN: 10 a.m., Sunday, May 21.

WHERE: National Guard Readiness Center, Building 855, Oswego Ave, Fort Drum N.Y. 13603

Coverage Opportunities:

Video and still imagery of Soldiers in formation and the transfer of the brigade colors from Col. Biehler to Lt. Col. Cronin. There will be an opportunity to interview both incoming and outgoing commanders.

Media interested in covering this event must RSVP no later than 10 a.m. on Friday, May 19 to Fort Drum Public Affairs at 315-772-5463 or email

For access to the secure military facility, contact Sgt. Alexander Rector at 585-353-3475.

News media will meet up with their escort, Lt. Col. Roberta Comerford, at the Fort Drum Media Center on Route 26 adjacent to Wheeler Sack Army Airfield at 9:30 am on Sunday, May 21. The unit ceremony will begin promptly at 10.


The Change of Command:

The Change of Command Ceremony dates back to the days in which a military unit's flag marked its position in the line of battle. The colors were always near the commander, so troops knew where to rally on the battlefield. Today the transfer of the colors marks a change in the unit and givens the soldiers their first opportunity to see and hear their new leader.

The change of command ceremony recognizes the accomplishments of the outgoing commander and the Soldiers who served under him. In addition, the ceremony identifies the new commander to the Soldiers, so they can follow him on the field of battle.

Col. Christopher Cronin

Colonel Christopher R. Cronin was commissioned a second lieutenant, Infantry, upon graduation from Syracuse University in October of 1993. He is a graduate of the United States Army Airborne School, Air Assault School, Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School and the Command and General Staff College.

His duty assignments include a three year tour as a member of the New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, and service as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Anti-Armor Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Anti-Armor Company Commander, and at staff assignments at the battalion, brigade and division level. His most recent duties were as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry in Utica, N.Y. He has served in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve since 1990.

He served in Afghanistan in 2007-2008 as the Operations Officer for tactical trainers supporting the 1st Brigade of the Afghan Army's 203rd Army Corps. He also served as training team chief in support of an Afghan Infantry battalion, in which he was in combat numerous times along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

Cronin's awards include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Parachutist Badgem the Air Assault Badge, the German Army Marksmanship Badge and the German Army Athletic Badge.

Colonel Joseph Biehler:

Colonel Joseph Biehler was commissioned as an Infantry officer in May 1987 and joined the New York Army National Guard. He has held positions as a rifle platoon leader, mortar platoon leader, support platoon leader, company commander, battalion supply, operations and executive officer, division liaison officer, and battalion commander before leading the 27th Brigade.

Prior to his command of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, he was commander of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry. He was the battalion's operations officer during its deployment to Iraq in 2004 and commanded the battalion during its recent deployment to Afghanistan in 2012 as Task Force Iron.

Biehler is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms Staff Service School, Intermediate Level Education, Infantry Pre-Command Course, Army War College, Airborne School, Air Assault School, and Ranger School.

Biehler was born in Rochester, New York and graduated from McQuaid Jesuit High School in 1983. He has earned Bachelor's of Science degrees in both Accounting and Management from St. John Fisher College in 1987 and is a Finance Senior Manager for Rochester's Harris Corporation in civilian life.

Biehler's awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal National Defense Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Basic Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

He and his wife Sonya live in Webster, N.Y. with their twin sons Thomas and Andrew.

27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team:

Today's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat team is a descendent of the New York National Guard's 27th Division of World War I and World War II.

During the First World War, the 27th Division served under British command along with the U.S. 30th Division and played a key role in breaking through German defenses known as the Hindenburg line in the fall of 1918.

In World War II, Soldiers of the 27th Division fought their way through the Pacific, invading and capturing the Island of Saipan, where division units survived the most ferocious Japanese Banzai attack of the war, and the islands of Makin and Eniwetok before landing on Okinawa.

In 1955 the Division became an armored division and in 1967 it reorganized into a brigade under the 50th Armored Division, headquartered in New Jersey. In the 1980s the 27th Infantry Brigade was designated as a "round out" unit to the 10th Mountain Division and in 1995 it became one of the National Guard's "enhanced brigades" designed to deploy early to a conflict.

The brigade reorganized again in 2001 as an Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The brigade's 3,500 Soldiers are stationed across New York from Farmingdale on Long Island to Jamestown in Chautauqua County and Morrisonville in the North Country in four combat and two support battalions.

The 27th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 to lead efforts for the training of Afghan security forces as Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix during Operation Enduring Freedom.

The brigade was called up again in 2011 for deployment and provided forces for multiple missions in Kuwait, other Persian Gulf states and Afghanistan.

The brigade most recently completed a training rotation to Fort Polk, Louisiana in July 2016 and the Army's Joint Readiness Training Center, conducting exercises and training to prepare Soldiers and leaders for combat operations.

Brigade Soldiers also responded to help New Yorkers deal with Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011. Most recently, brigade Soldiers are providing support to counties along the Lake Ontario shoreline, assisting with preparations for potential flooding.