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‘Cold Steel’ brigade welcomes new Command Sergeant Major

Sgt. 1st Class Richard Baca (center right) stands at the head of a formation during the brigade’s Change of Responsibility Ceremony held Dec. 13, 2022 at JBLM. Photo credit: Sgt. 1st Class Scott J. Evans

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - The ‘Cold Steel' soldiers of 189th Infantry Brigade Command hosted a Change of Responsibility ceremony Dec. 13, 2022, which saw Command Sgt. Maj. Robert M. Keith relinquish his responsibilities as the brigade's senior enlisted advisor to Command Sgt. Maj. Victor M. Benavides before a large audience at the 110th Chemical Battalion headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Benavides has led a lengthy and impactful career in the United States Army, most recently serving as the command sergeant major of the 197th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia. His experience will be beneficial to the Observer, Coach, Trainers (OC/Ts) throughout the ranks of the Active and Reserve units that comprise the Cold Steel Brigade.  

"Your background, your experience and your reputation make you the perfect fit for this assignment," Col. Hank Barnes, the 189th Inf. Bde. commander said during his remarks at the ceremony. "We look forward to your leadership, your counsel and your advice as our new senior noncommissioned officer."

Likewise, Benavides also expressed to those in attendance his eagerness to hit the ground running in his new leadership role.

"It is an honor and a pleasure to have the opportunity to serve one more time as a brigade command sergeant major," Benavides said. "I want to thank God and the Army for this opportunity, but especially my family for sacrificing so much in support of my career."

Keith, the outgoing command sergeant major, thanked the soldiers throughout the formation for their dedication to improving the organization and offered his best wishes to Command Sgt. Maj. Benavides going forward.

"You're inheriting a great organization, and I know you're going to do great things," Keith said. "I sincerely wish you and your family the very best."

Throughout the course of the afternoon, the soldiers and civilians of the 189th Inf. Bde. thanked Keith for his service to the brigade and wished him all the best going forward.

"We had a similar view of ‘work hard and play hard' - you can accomplish the mission and still have fun," Barnes said. "... thank you for being there for our officers, NCOs and civilians. You were exactly what the brigade needed and exactly what I needed in a teammate and counterpart."

In his closing remarks, Benavides expressed his commitment to his new organization and to its mission of training Reserve and National Guard units for operational success.

"Col. Barnes, I am excited to work with you and our battalion's command teams to make our partner units, in the Army Reserve and National Guard, ready to fight," Benavides said. "Lastly, to the Cold Steel team and family, I am happy to be part of your family and I am here to serve you."

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