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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | Aug. 18, 2022

Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade honors commanders

By Spc. Danielle Rayon, 145th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Members of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, friends and family gathered to bid farewell to outgoing commander Col. Colby Wyatt, of Cherokee, Oklahoma, and welcome incoming commander Col. Andrew Ballenger, of Sulphur, Oklahoma, during a change of command ceremony at Camp Gruber Training Center, Sunday.

“I can think of no two greater leaders than those that are seated here before me today,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, adjutant general for Oklahoma. “I have full faith and confidence in both of them.”

Wyatt’s career with the Oklahoma National Guard began in 1990 as an enlisted Soldier and he commissioned six years later. He was assigned as commander for the 45th IBCT in 2019.

“The last three years have been quite the test,” Wyatt said, going on to describe several events the 45th IBCT faced during his command, including the COVID-19 pandemic as well as planning and executing a rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

During the ceremony, Wyatt was presented the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his leadership and guidance through the pandemic, as well as his dedication to the Soldiers of the 45th IBCT. This award is the latest addition to the many Wyatt has earned during his military career, to include four Bronze Star Medals and a Purple Heart.

Wyatt had many people to thank for his success as commander of the 45th IBCT. During his speech he recognized his staff as well as the Soldiers of the brigade.

“I thank you for the hard work and dedication as professional Soldiers,” Wyatt said. “You made my command very enjoyable with the enthusiasm that you brought to every drill, field event and challenge that was thrown at us.”

Ballenger is stepping into command of the Thunderbird Brigade with a breadth of military experience dating back to his enlistment in the Oklahoma National Guard in 1989. While serving in the 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery Regiment, 45th IBCT, Ballenger attended the University of Oklahoma where he earned a commission in the active-duty Army through the Reserve Officer Training Program.

He served with the active-duty Army for four years and transitioned to the Army National Guard. He has held numerous command and staff positions at multiple levels including commanding the 45th IBCT’s 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, Individual Training Branch chief, Operations Division chief, chief of Strategic Plans and Policy, deputy operations officer for the Army National Guard Directorate of the National Guard Bureau, and served as the Senior Army National Guard advisor to the headquarters of United States Army Europe-Africa.

Ballenger holds a master of National Security Studies from the National War College, a masters of Public Administration from the George Bush School of Government at Texas A&M and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oklahoma. He has also attended the Command and General Staff Course, Infantry Officer Advanced Course and the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course.

Addressing the Soldiers in formation, Ballenger said he plans to bring top-tier leadership to the Brigade during any challenges they will face.

“My message today to the force here is I will do my utmost to provide you with good, competent leadership,” Ballenger said. “To the Soldiers, my responsibility is to bring the Army’s half to the table and yours is to bring your half. I will give my utmost to make sure we are [together] at the finish line.”
Video by Staff Sgt. Reece Heck
Oklahoma Guard conducts annual Mechanic of the Year competition
Oklahoma National Guard
Feb. 7, 2024 | 1:36
Oklahoma Army National Guardsmen gathered to test their mechanical skills at the third annual Mechanic of the Year competition held at the Combined Support Maintenance Shop in Norman, Oklahoma, Feb. 7, 2024. (Oklahoma National Guard video by Staff Sgt. Reece Heck)

CG Information:
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Rocky Anderson
President of the Mechanic of the Year Board