183rd RTI welcomes new commander

Col. Thomas Morgan takes command of the Virginia National Guard’s Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute from Col. Douglas Messner at a change of command ceremony held Aug. 24, 2014, at Fort Pickett, Va. Brig. Gen. Steven T. Scott, Assistant Adjutant General for Support, presided over the guidon exchange that symbolized the transition between the two officers. Morgan most recently served as the Director of Manpower and Personnel at Joint Force Headquarters - Virginia, a position he will continue to hold as a federal technician. Messner will serve as the Director of Joint Training and Exercises at JFHQ-VA. During the ceremony, the 29th Division Band provided musical accompaniment. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Col. Thomas Morgan takes command of the Virginia National Guard’s Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute from Col. Douglas Messner at a change of command ceremony held Aug. 24, 2014, at Fort Pickett, Va. Brig. Gen. Steven T. Scott, Assistant Adjutant General for Support, presided over the guidon exchange that symbolized the transition between the two officers. Morgan most recently served as the Director of Manpower and Personnel at Joint Force Headquarters – Virginia, a position he will continue to hold as a federal technician. Messner will serve as the Director of Joint Training and Exercises at JFHQ-VA. During the ceremony, the 29th Division Band provided musical accompaniment. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Col. Thomas Morgan took command of the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute from Col. Douglas Messner Aug. 24, 2014, at a ceremony held at Fort Pickett, Va. Brig. Gen. Steven T. Scott, the Assistant Adjutant General for Support, presided over the guidon exchange that signified the transfer of command from Messner to Morgan.

“This is indeed a special day for the Regiment and in the careers of these two outstanding officers,” Scott said. “We say farewell and thank you to Col. Doug Messner as he gives up the reigns and moves on to his next challenge and we welcome Col. Thom Morgan as he assumes the mantel of commander and anticipates all the joys and challenges therein.”

Scott praised Messner’s accomplishments as the RTI commander, noting that Messner led the RTI through an “accreditation process, the first in its nearly 30 years of existence, which culminated in the Regiment being designated an Institute of Excellence by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “

During his remarks, Messner thanked his family for their support over the years and welcomed the Morgan family back to the RTI, saying, “You will find a seasoned and well-trained cadre of officers and [noncommissioned officers].”

“Command of the 183rd Regional Training Institute has been an honor,” Messner said. “I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most competent, proficient and professional people that I have encountered over my 27 years in the Army.”

Messner reminded the audience to thank those you help them, told them to “set your sights on the most challenging goals and work hard to accomplish those incremental and important tasks that lead to that goal,” and “to seek out opportunity.” He also thanked Virginia National Guard senior leaders and peers who assisted in shaping him as an officer and a leader.

“Taking the colors today is the right officer at the right time,” Scott said of Morgan. “His tenure and experience with the Virginia National Guard provides him the proper perspective and preparation to lead the Regiment, and I have full faith and confidence that he will continue Col. Messner’s great initiatives and bring his own fresh ideas that will continue to posture the Regiment as a premier Regional Training Institute.”

For Morgan, his assumption of command marks a return to the RTI. Morgan served as the commander of the Virginia National Guard’s Officer Candidate School and served as the adjutant and officer-in-charge of the Virginia Military Academy as it transitioned to the current RTI construct.

“I want you to know in advance that I appreciate the required work you will inevitably do to transition me in as commander and also to educate me on our current initiatives and programs so I can ensure our continued success,” Morgan told the RTI cadre. “I am truly impressed with the accomplishments you have achieved, no the least of which is the Institute of Excellence accreditation rating.”

Located at Fort Pickett, the 183rd Regional Training Institute is comprised of the RTI Headquarters and three battalions. First Battalion conducts infantry training, including the 11B Infantryman Military Occupational Specialty Qualification Course, Light Leaders Course and rappel master, while 2nd Battalion conducts the 88M Motor Transport Operator Course. Third battalion includes both Officer Candidate School and Warrant Officer Candidate School and also trains Soldiers as military police officers.

The RTI includes 74 instructors supported by 32 staff personnel. The schoolhouse was completed in 2011 and includes approximately 400,000 square feet of instruction space, including a combatives training room, eight modular classrooms and a lecture hall capable of accommodating 480 students, along with three barracks with two-person rooms and open bay housing that can accommodate 275 students. At Fort Pickett, instructors and students can reach training sites within five minutes and that includes a variety of ranges, convoy and live fire lanes, an urban assault course, training villages, field training lanes, an air assault tower and an extensive urban training site.

Additional biographical information:

Messner was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Signal Corps upon graduation from the Virginia Military Institute in 1987. Over the course of his career, he has held four separate branches: signal, armor, transportation and logistics.

He has held command at every organization level from detached platoon through brigade, commanding Detachment 2, Bravo Company, 129th Signal Battalion; Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 103rd Armor Company; 1030th Transportation Battalion and the 183rd Regional Training Institute.

His staff assignments include supporting infantry, armor, field artillery, logistics and aviation units as battalion signal officer and brigade S-6. He has also served in liaison positions and was assigned as the Deputy Exercise Director at JFCOM, the J5 and Executive Officer for the 329th Regional Support Group.

In 2004 and 2005 he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, serving as the Director of the Joint Visitor Bureau for the Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan.

Messner holds a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from VMI, a Masters of Business Administration from the College of William and Mary, and a Masters of Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.

His Awards include the Combat Action Badge, the Air Assault Badge, two awards of the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and others.

Messner lives with his wife, Michele, and their two daughters Olivia and Lilly in Riner, Virginia. In his civilian career, he is the Program Manager for Technology Development Programs for ATK at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant.

Colonel Thomas L. Morgan III is an Infantry officer with thirty one years of service in the Virginia Army National Guard. He enlisted in 1983 as an Infantryman and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry upon graduation in 1987 from the Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia as the Distinguished National Guard Honor Graduate. He is also branch qualified in the Adjutant General Corps.

He has commanded from Detachment to Battalion level prior to assuming command of the 183rd Regiment: Detachment 1, A Company 1-116th Infantry; B Company 1-116th Infantry; Virginia National Guard (VaNG) Officer Candidate School (OCS); Recruiting and Retention Battalion; 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment.

His staff assignments include VaNG OCS Training Officer; VaNG Plans and Operations Officer; S1/OIC, 183rd Regiment; VaNG Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Training; Deputy J3/2/6; VaNG G3, and J1, Director of Manpower and Personnel.

COL Morgan was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during 2010 and 2011 as the Chief of Afghan National Security Forces Field Assessments with the 29th Infantry Division Security Partnering Detachment in the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Joint Command (IJC).

He is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College and Virginia Tech.

His awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, 5 awards of the Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal, Air Assault Badge, National Guard Recruiting Badge, VaNG Bronze Star, the Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award, and others.

He lives in Midlothian, Virginia with his wife, Sheila, and is very proud of their two sons. He is a federal technician currently serving as the Director of Manpower and Personnel for the Virginia National Guard.

Photos: 183rd RTI welcomes new commander – Aug. 24, 2014