Col. Brian P. Foley assumed command of Fort Meade during a ceremony Thursday morning.
Foley, the 84th commander of the Army base in Anne Arundel County, succeeds Col. Edward C. Rothstein, who is retiring after 30 years in the military, the last two as commander of Fort Meade.
Foley, a Signal Corps officer, served most recently as coalition branch chief, Joint Staff J6 Pentagon.
"Words cannot express how thankful I am to have been afforded the opportunity to lead the U.S. Army garrison here," Foley said. "That honor has grown over the past month as I have become more aware of the strategic importance of this base as a Department of Defense pre-eminent center of information, intelligence and cyber operations and as a vital economic hub for the great state of Maryland."
Fort Meade is the largest workplace in Maryland, with some 53,000 service members, civilians and government contractors, and tenants, including the National Security Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.
As garrison commander, Foley will command 950 workers. The job is sometimes likened to that of a mayor: The garrison commander oversees base construction; police, fire and security; family care, morale and wellbeing programs; food management; environmental programs; public works; and installation funding.
Foley takes over as the garrison and the military as a whole deal with shrinking budgets.
As the governmentwide spending cuts known as the sequester took effect this year, Rothstein spoke of delaying nonessential maintenance. Civilian defense employees began taking one unpaid day off per week last month.
The furloughs had been scheduled to continue through September. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced this week that savings elsewhere had made it possible to end furloughs for most employees next week. But the Pentagon is bracing for more cuts when the new fiscal year begins in September.
Fort Meade has also been the scene of several high-profile legal proceedings, including the court-martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was convicted last week of espionage in the largest leak of classified materials in U.S. history. That case, now in the sentencing phase, has drawn demonstrators and news media from around the world.
Foley, a master parachutist, has commanded the 50th Signal Battalion (Expeditionary) out of Fort Bragg, N.C., with which he deployed to Iraq, and served as plans and operations officer for the 50th Signal Battalion (Corps) (Forced Entry) (Airborne), with which he deployed to Afghanistan.
He is a graduate of the National War College. His awards include the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.
"Colonel Foley brings a wealth of command experiences, working on both the installation side as well as operations," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the Military District of Washington. "His unique experiences as a signal officer will help him connect with the customer units on the installation."
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