Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Lt. Col. Charles D. Ausman relinquished command of the Special Troops Battalion, Combined Arms Center, to Lt. Col. Mark Winker in a ceremony Oct. 30 in the Lewis and Clark Center’s Eisenhower Auditorium.
“This battalion is very special. It is in the name. … When you’re the STB commander at CAC, there’s a good portion of your soldiers that outrank you and another large portion who think they outrank you. Very few of them show up to your formations, but they all come to you when they need something,” said Col. Thomas Bolen, CAC chief of staff. “It takes an equally special officer to take on the challenge of commanding our STB here at CAC, and we have two special officers here today that fill that bill perfectly.”
Ausman assumed command of the STB in November 2018. During his time of command, Ausman conducted a personnel asset inventory of the entire battalion, developed a detailed concept of support and more.
“Dave always had things under control. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an officer blend caring leadership, detailed research and simple persistence to support his soldiers,” Bolen said. “That’s not surprising though. Dave’s a natural leader who genuinely cares about his troops and their families.
“Dave, you always have an Army family here at Fort Leavenworth, and my guess is your contribution to the STB will resonate for some years to come,” he said.
Ausman emotionally thanked several people throughout his speech including CAC leaders, STB staff and his family.
“As many of you know, the Ausman family has a long history with Fort Leavenworth. I met (my wife) Jessi here, I was promoted twice here, deployed from here, taught from here, went to (the Command and General Staff College) here, had a baby here and took command here. I guess now I’ll relinquish command, too,” Ausman said. “I was humbled to take command and humbled by the responsibility. I was so lucky to play a part. I love this job, and I love the people.”
Ausman’s next assignment is with NATO in Brunssum, Netherlands.
Winker commissioned into the Army as a field artillery officer in 2004 and reclassified as a multifunctional logistician in 2010. His previous command assignments have included 72nd Brigade Support Battalion, 212th Fires Brigade, and 15th Sustainment Brigade in Fort Bliss, Texas; brigade S3 and executive officer, Area Support Group Qatar, Doha, Qatar. His most recent assignment was transportation observer/coach/trainer, Operations Group Sierra, Mission Command Training Program at Fort Leavenworth.
“I’d probably be more upset about Dave leaving if we didn’t have another great leader ready to pick up the colors. Mark Winker … is an accomplished officer in his own right. We’re grateful for the experience he’s going to bring here to our STB,” Bolen said. “You have my utmost confidence as you start this challenging assignment. You wouldn’t be taking the colors today if (Lieutenant) General (James) Rainey (CAC and Fort Leavenworth commanding general) or I had any doubt in your abilities. We welcome you to the STB family, and I have no doubt that you’ll be a great success.”
Winker said he realized something as he received congratulatory texts from family and friends before the ceremony.
“It’s more about the organization than it is the individual. It’s about the stewardship of this organization and really as a battalion commander of the Army profession,” Winker said. “I’m here to tell you that I’m committed to both of those.
“Since 1827 and through the westward expansion and even still today here, somebody has been right here at Fort Leavenworth to lead, train, care, manage, maintain and support the soldiers, family members and members of this community. The flame of this longstanding tradition has been carried by many men and women over the last 193 years and now Dave has just passed this torch onto me,” Winker said. “The Army, the Combined Arms Center and this historic garrison have given me a great opportunity and great responsibility here with the STB. I take these obligations seriously. It’s time for me and this great team to build on the strong foundation and to take it to even greater heights.”