Less than two months after returning from the battlefield, Col. Kevin Felix has a new job guiding the 3rd Army's move to Shaw Air Force Base.
Felix's role in the anxiously awaited transition of a major Army command to the S.C. base was announced Tuesday when the colonel handed over command of the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment.
In his new role, Felix will be the 3rd Army's deputy chief of staff, coordinating the relocation of the unit - which includes some 1,000 soldiers and their families - from its Atlanta headquarters.
The 3rd Army, which is responsible for U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, will be moving into a $92 million headquarters complex under construction on the east side of the base.
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Although federal law doesn't require the move to be completed until September 2011, soldiers already are being assigned to Shaw and will begin moving here in June, said 3rd Army spokesman Col. Gerald O'Hara.
The soldiers will be part of an advance party to assist Felix, O'Hara said.
They will handle a number of jobs for the headquarters from logistics to public affairs, O'Hara said. The exact number of troops who will serve in the advance party has not been set, O'Hara added.
By June 2010, 300 to 400 soldiers are expected to be assigned to Shaw.
A native of Parsippany, N.J., Felix has been at Shaw since he took command of the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment in 2007.
Felix is familiar with the 3rd Army's move to Shaw, having served at the Pentagon in 2005 when plans for the transfer were first proposed to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
Shaw is home to the 20th Fighter Wing and 9th Air Force, which have about 5,800 airmen stationed here.
The Pentagon proposed the move because the 3rd Army's battlefield component - Army Central Command - works closely with the 9th Air Force counterpart - Air Forces Central.
Felix praised local efforts in welcoming the 3rd Army, calling Sumter "a great, military friendly town."
Felix's former command, the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment, is a 40-man unit that coordinates ground troops' need for air power with Air Force units.
Its new commander, Col. Thomas Kelly, formerly served as executive officer to Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, chief of the Army's Accessions Command. That command is responsible for recruiting.
While the 3rd Army's move to Shaw is the big news, Kelly said his unit also will enjoy a growth spurt. Over the next year, the number of soldiers assigned to the unit is expected to double to around 80, he said.
"I'm going to pick 'em up and help rebuild them so they'll be ready to go back over when they're called."
Soldiers in the detachment plan, coordinate and execute combat operations involving ground troops and units from the Air Force.
The soldiers serve as liaisons to air units flying over Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of the soldiers serve aboard Navy aircraft carriers, preparing pilots for missions in support of ground forces.