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Eyre takes on a new challenge

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

CFB PETAWAWA - The new man in charge of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group is embarking to some uncharted territory.

For the first time since the brigade's redesignation, its commander hails from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, or the PPCLI as they're commonly known, a regiment based out of western Canada.

In a change of command ceremony in front of 500 troops Tuesday, Col. Wayne Eyre took over the brigade from Col. Dean Milner.

After joining Brig.-Gen. J. C. Collin, commander of Land Force Central Area, and his predecessor in the signing of the change of command scrolls, Col. Eyre addressed his soldiers for the first time, saying he was pleasantly surprised to learn of his appointment to the brigade. This is his first posting to Petawawa.

"My family and I are very much looking forward to the opportunity presented by this posting and by this community," said Col. Eyre, a former commanding officer of 3 PPCLI.

Although he's never been with 2CMBG, the incoming commander noted he has worked with Petawawa soldiers in the past and has followed the brigade's progress on recent missions from his post at Canadian Expeditionary Force Command.

"Your operational record speaks for itself. You are tough, keen, dedicated and professional, steadfast in the face of the enemy. You don't shy away from a fight and you have seen much success in battle," he said. "I look forward to continuing this practice with you."

In his closing remarks, Col. Milner reflected on his tenure, which began in August 2007. Over that period, he presided over the stand-up and training of one major task force to Kandahar, Afghanistan and guided the brigade in those tough days when Petawawa lost soldiers in combat.

He described his time here as "a hard charging couple of years." He thanked the families and the community for their outstanding support of the brigade's men and women and, in particular, he expressed appreciation to his wife, Katrin, and children, Stephanie and Derek, for his long hours at work. Col. Milner then turned his attention to praising the soldiers that were under his command.

"You've gone off to war, you've accomplished a whole bunch of great things," he said looking out at the parade. "You're back home and you're ready to do some more. This brigade will not slow down. The tempo of this brigade - because it is the best brigade - will continue."

Col. Milner reminded them that the brigade will soon prepare for Task Force 1-10, scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan next spring, and the upcoming G-8 Summit. He assured them that with his wealth of operational experience Col. Eyre has all the right attributes to lead the brigade.

"You have a great commander who's going to take you on that road," said Col. Milner, who will be returning to Petawawa next year to ready the Joint Task Force Headquarters for deployment to Kandahar.

Gen. Collin told the parade the brigade has developed a reputation nothing short of outstanding, having taken on tasks that have been exhaustive and profound over the past two years. He added the formation will be well-served by Col. Eyre at the helm.

Brigade Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Patterson also handed over his pace stick to Chief Warrant Officer Mark Baisley. A former regimental sergeant major of the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, Chief Warrant Officer Baisley had previously served at Petawawa with the Canadian Airborne Regiment and both 1 RCR and 3 RCR.

Col. Eyre began his career after graduating from Royal Military College in Victoria and Kingston in 1988. He served as a platoon commander in overseas deployments to Cyprus and Croatia, where in 1993 his unit was involved in the Medak Pocket operation. After leading 3 PPCLI, he deployed to Southern Afghanistan in 2007 to command the Canadian Operational Mentor and Liaison Team, where he earned the Meritorious Service Cross. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children, Alexander and Breanna.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer reporter

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