Mathews takes charge of 97th MP Bn.

Col. Patrick Williams, commander, 89th MP Bde., Fort Hood, Texas, right, passes the 97th MP Bn. guidon to the incoming commander Lt. Col. Michael Mathews, left, during the change of command ceremony Oct. 7 at King Field House between Mathews and outgoing commander Lt. Col. David Chase.

One week shy of a 31-month tenure as commander of the 97th Military Police Battalion, Lt. Col. David Chase stepped down Oct. 7 to allow Lt. Col. Michael Mathews to once again follow in his footsteps and fill his shoes.

“I’ve known Mike Mathews – we went to officer’s advance together and he actually followed me to my last assignment and took my place there, and he followed me here,” Chase said.

Prior to arriving at Fort Riley, the two served as military police observer trainers with the Battle Command Training Program at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

As the commander of the battalion, this was Chase’s third assignment at Fort Riley. He was formerly the deputy chief of staff with the 1st Infantry Division and served as the commander of the 977th Military Police Company, 97th MP Bn.

Chase described his time at Fort Riley as an incredible experience working with Soldiers, the Directorate of Emergency Services and in the community, “making sure we had good law and order support here on the installation and fire support.”

He also described it as the “most challenging and enjoyable time that I’ve had in my 28 years of service to the Army.”

“I stand here thankful and awed by the experiences that I’ve had,” he said. “As I look back on all those great experiences and events that have made that time special, it boils down to this – people, the Soldiers and Family members of this great organization and those that we work with. You, the Soldiers of the 97th MP Bn., are the reason that I stand here today, and you, the Soldiers, are the reason that this old man continues to drive on in the Army.”

While working with DES, Chase re-established the threat fusion group – a working group that collects, analyzes and simulates known threats and integrates the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, local civilian law enforcement agencies and numerous division and garrison staff agencies.

He also increased the exposure and participation of the local school district in the Drug and Resistance Education program; assured DES met or exceeded all levels of support for fire, police and physical security in accordance with Installation Management Command standards; and coordinated numerous traffic studies, enhancing the overall flow of entry access to the post.

“Today the capabilities that our military police provide the combatant commanders on the battlefield and to senior mission commanders in garrison are more relevant and important than ever before,” said Col. Patrick Williams, commander of the 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. “Lt. Col. Chase, your performance has helped the military police corps gain that reputation.”

During his tenure as battalion commander, Chase’s emphasis on command maintenance, supply, discipline, awards, evaluations and physical security increased the battalions operational readiness rate, ensured property was properly accounted for and every arms room passed security inspections.

Chase also instituted requirements for each company to conduct law enforcement situational training exercises upon completion of sniper training to improve and enhance law enforcement skills.

While deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 97th MP Bn. was assigned to Kandahar City – a city with a population of more than 850,000 people – for the final five months in theater.

During that time, the battalion managed a Quick Reaction Force, medical evacuations, close air support, counter (improvised explosive device) for coalition forces and special operation units operating in the battle space,” Williams said. “(Chase’s) subordinate units also conducted over 605 joint patrols with the Afghan National Police.”

Fort Riley was Mathews’ first duty station, where he now returns for a third assignment.

He was formerly the company commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 716th Military Police Battalion, and a platoon leader with the 1st Military Police Company.

“Today is a very exciting day for my Family and I, having spent the better part of my career with the 1st Infantry Division, starting with the initial assignment as a platoon leader right here at Fort Riley. I can tell you that it is great to be home,” Mathews said. “I’m honored to have this opportunity to lead this battalion that is filled with discipline – professional Soldiers like the ones standing before us.”

Mathews said his priority will be focused on reintegrating Soldiers who returned from theater in July.

“The battalion right now has just returned from a deployment, so the priority is going to be to reset the battalion and to establish the systems and processes in the unit – to make sure we continue to build the battalion and support,” Mathews said. “This won’t be the last deployment for Soldiers in the battalion, so we’ve got to make sure that they are ready to go wherever they are asked to go.”

Mathews described his return to Fort Riley as great.

“My wife is from Kansas and so it affords us an opportunity to be near Family, which you don’t always get in the Army,” he said.

Mathews and his wife, Carrie, have three sons, Garrett, 11, T.J., 7, and Grady, 4.

Chase will remain at Fort Riley as the division provost marshal until he departs next summer for the Senior Service College.

“Today the 97th MP Bn. loses an outstanding command team that will be sorely missed, however, the Army has selected another gifted command team to continue the excellent work Dave started,” Williams said. “(Mike) is technically and tactically proficient in military police doctrine and has a complete understanding of full spectrum operations. I am confident that he is the person best suited to build on the successes formed by Lt. Col. Chase and the challenges that lay ahead.”

“To the Soldiers of the 97th MP Bn., I pledge to you my very best effort every day,” Mathews said. “I’m looking forward to all that the future holds for us. All current command policies and procedures remain in effect. Duty first – proven in battle – take charge.”

(This article was published in the October 15, 2010, issue of The 1st Infantry Division Post.)

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