The top post for a Special Operations officer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord changed hands Thursday at a ceremony for outgoing 1st Special Forces Group commander Col. Francis Beaudette.
That area of Lewis-McChord grew under Beaudette’s watch with the addition of a new battalion under the 1st Group. His soldiers deployed repeatedly to Afghanistan, Iraq and on missions to support Asian allies, such as the Philippines.
The base’s Special Operations footprint now includes about 1,600 soldiers in the 1st Group, about 600 or so in 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and the elite helicopter crews in the 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
Beaudette is being succeeded by Col. Robert McDowell, who is leaving his post as the director of training and doctrine at the Special Warfare Center and School. McDowell is a veteran of Task Force Dagger, the mission name for the initial invasion into Afghanistan.
Beaudette is moving on to the U.S. Army War College. He has served in the Gulf War, the Iraq War, Afghanistan and in operations in Africa. His command at Lewis-McChord called on him to oversee operations in the Philippines, which is a historic focus for the 1st Group. Here’s a link to a 2009 interview Beaudette gave describing how Special Forces train and operate in Afghanistan.