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Crosby takes over as COG commander

Col. Mark Crosby, center, is handed the colors as he accepts command of the Combat Operations Group commander from Brig. Gen. Michael Stencel, Oregon Air National Guard Commander, left, during the Change of Command ceremony, May 3, 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Col. Mark Crosby, center, is handed the colors as he accepts command of the Combat Operations Group commander from Brig. Gen. Michael Stencel, Oregon Air National Guard Commander, left, during the Change of Command ceremony, May 3, 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Oregon Air National Guard Commander Brig. Gen. Michael Stencel, left, acknowledges the accomplishments of Col. Michael Bieniewicz, center, and Col. Mark Crosby, right, during the Combat Operations Group (COG) Change of Command ceremony, May 3, 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. Bieniewicz will begin a new assignment with counter drug at Joint Forces Headquarters, Salem, Ore., as Crosby becomes the new COG commander.  (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Oregon Air National Guard Commander Brig. Gen. Michael Stencel, left, acknowledges the accomplishments of Col. Michael Bieniewicz, center, and Col. Mark Crosby, right, during the Combat Operations Group (COG) Change of Command ceremony, May 3, 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. Bieniewicz will begin a new assignment with counter drug at Joint Forces Headquarters, Salem, Ore., as Crosby becomes the new COG commander. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Col. Michael Bieniewicz, right, pauses for a photograph with Brig. Gen. Michael Stencel, Oregon Air National Guard Commander, left, after being presented with Meritorious Service Medal during the Combat Operations Group (COG) Change of Command ceremony, May 3, 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. Bieniewicz served as the COG Commander for over two years and will take a new assignment at Joint Forces Headquarters in counter drug.  (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Col. Michael Bieniewicz, right, pauses for a photograph with Brig. Gen. Michael Stencel, Oregon Air National Guard Commander, left, after being presented with Meritorious Service Medal during the Combat Operations Group (COG) Change of Command ceremony, May 3, 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. Bieniewicz served as the COG Commander for over two years and will take a new assignment at Joint Forces Headquarters in counter drug. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Col. Michael Bieniewicz, left, outgoing Combat Operations Group (COG) Commander, shakes hands with Col. Mark Crosby, the new COG commander during the Change of Command ceremony, May 3, 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Col. Michael Bieniewicz, left, outgoing Combat Operations Group (COG) Commander, shakes hands with Col. Mark Crosby, the new COG commander during the Change of Command ceremony, May 3, 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- Col. Mark A. Crosby took the reins as the Oregon Air National Guard Combat Operations Group Commander (COG) during a ceremony here yesterday.

Brig. Gen. Michael E. Stencel, Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, presided over the change of command ceremony. He praised Crosby's role as the Director of the State Partnership program and the work he has done with the countries of Bangladesh and Vietnam over the past several years.

After the formal exchange of colors, Crosby addressed those in attendance and the Airmen he is to command.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to take this assignment and work again with some familiar faces," he said.

Addressing the significant vision he hopes to bring to the position as the COG Commander, Crosby highlighted diversity and experience as key factors. Noting how many of the Airmen possess the unique combinations of past active-duty service, he said civilian skill sets and one's current National Guard commitment "are the things we should be most proud of."

As the current Chief of Public Safety for the Port of Portland, Crosby's varied background as well as his previous National Guard leadership roles as the state emergency plans officer, and assignments with the 244th and 272nd Combat Communications Squadrons, should allow for a seamless transition into the role as the COG Commander.

"The best organizations are the ones who build on their strengths-- that's exactly what I see the COG doing now and into the future," he said.

During the ceremony, Stencel praised outgoing COG Commander Col. Michael T. Bieniewicz for his role in expanding the training and readiness of the four distinct units that make up the COG.

"In my role, I'm the guy who is always advocating for changes but seeing how well they (Bieniewicz and Crosby) are doing their current jobs, it's hard to let them go," said Stencel.

Under Bieniewicz guidance, Stencel said, the COG has become more integrated and has continued to develop its mission skill sets.

"Just like he did with the [142nd Fighter] Wing, he jumped in with both feet and has been integral to help posture the organization for growth," Stencel said.

"In the blink of an eye the last two and half years have flown by. Some of the lessons were easy, some were hard, but hopefully they stuck," said Bieniewicz, who will work with the state counter drug program.

In his final address as the COG Commander, Bieniewicz left the Airmen with praise and compliments saying, "What you bring with your energy and skill sets never ceases to amaze me. I am humbled and honored to have served with all of you."

The four distinct units of the COG are made up of the 125th Special Tactics Squadron, 116th Air Control Squadron, 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron and 123rd Weather Flight. It was under Bieniewicz command that all four units participated in a joint training exercise in June of 2013 for the first time in the COG's 12-year history.