Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Col. Caroline Smith relinquished command of the 15th Military Police Brigade to Col. Michael Johnston in a ceremony July 24 on Main Parade.
“Change of command ceremonies dually recognize and celebrate our military culture, organizations and people,” said Brig. Gen. Duane Miller, U.S. Army Corrections Command commanding general. “For both Colonels Smith and Johnston, today is a significant milestone in their careers.”
Smith assumed command of the 15th MP Brigade on July 20, 2018.
“The reputation the 15th enjoys today is absolutely exceptional because of Carrie because leadership matters,” Miller said. “When I think about the chief of staff of the Army’s four priorities — people, readiness, reform and modernization — Colonel Smith moved the ball forward in many ways, mostly by good leadership.
“She set conditions by defining first, ‘Ready to do what?’, striving always to ensure her team was ready to deploy, fight and win as part of the Army’s combined arms team against a peer enemy in a complex environment by focusing on individual readiness, collective unit readiness, equipment readiness, family readiness and, most importantly, leader readiness,” he said. “She maximized her personal time developing leaders …investing time, energy and resources.”
During Smith’s tenure, the 15th MP Brigade saw two consecutive Corrections Professionals of the Year; received two consecutive Brigadier General Thomas F. Barr Awards; met American Correctional Association standards and receiving 100 percent scores two years in a row; had the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year in 2020; established the Dog Handler Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services program; expanded agricultural programs; deployed multiple units to support in combat operations; and more.
“Griffins, I am incredibly proud to have served as your commander and the 54th commandant (of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks) for the last two years. …Time flies when you love the people you work with and the mission,” Smith said. “Your tenacity and positivity are infectious. …This unit is exceptional in everything it does, and I could not be more proud to have served with all of you and be part of this amazing team.”
During the ceremony, Smith retired after 23 years of active-duty service. See www.ftleavenworthlamp.com for Smith’s retirement story and photos.
Johnston commissioned into the Army as a military police officer in August 1997.
His most recent assignment was as chief of the Command and Tactics Division, the U.S. Army Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
His other assignments include platoon leader, 65th MP Company, 503rd MP Battalion, and platoon leader, 82nd MP Company, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, N.C.; assistant S3 of operations, 716th MP Battalion, Kosovo Forces at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo; assistant S3 of training, 8th MP Brigade, at Yongsan, Korea; battalion S4, 716th MP Battalion in All Hillah (Babylon), Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; company commander, 101st MP Company, 101st Airborne Division, and company commander, 561st MP Company, 716th MP Battalion, at Fort Campbell, Ky.; battalion S3, Washington Battalion Criminal Investigation Division at Fort Myer, Va.; Joint Expeditionary Forensics Facility officer-in-charge at Camp Victory, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; deputy chief, Forensics Branch, office of the Provost Marshal General at the Pentagon in Washington. D.C.; brigade plans officer, 16th MP Brigade, and battalion executive officer and battalion commander, 503rd MP Battalion at Fort Bragg; Project Management Office operations officer at Fort Bragg; and battalion commander, 716th MP Battalion, at Fort Campbell.
“The great thing about the Army is we do transitions very well and today is no exception,” Miller said. “Mike is a combat veteran, dedicated to caring for soldiers and their families, a proven professional and an outstanding Military Police officer.
“He understands the importance of standards and the strength of character we require in leaders,” he said. “Continue to trust those great leadership skills and instincts that got you here. You have my trust and confidence.”
Johnston said he is ready to take command of the brigade.
“I can’t tell you how fired up I am about the journey ahead,” Johnston said. “Team Johnston is more than ready to serve alongside and lead this critical (Department of Defense) and Army mission.”
The ceremony was broadcast onthe 15th MP Brigade Facebook page.