My friend Chuck took command today of a battalion at Fort Sam Houston. Kandie and I arrived too late to get good seats, so I didn't get the best pictures I could have. But I think I was able to get a few that show you what the change of command ceremony looks like if you aren't familiar with the tradition.
The battalion is a major tactical unit within the Army. Chuck's battalion will consist of 800 men and women. It recently deployed to provide humanitarian assistance in Haiti and is on standby to return in case of any sudden decline in conditions there. Here you see the "staff" - officers who represent the major functional areas of the battalion - personnel, military intelligence, operations, and logistics - at the front of the formation waiting for the ceremony to begin.
Here you see the outgoing, incoming, and next higher commanders trooping the line - which means they are performing a ritual inspection of the assembled troops.
Here you see the tradition of passing the colors. The "colors" refers to the unit flag. It is presented one final time by the senior non-comissioned officer (in this case, the battalion sergeant major) to the outgoing commander. He then passes the colors to his commander, who then turns and passes the colors to the incoming commander, who then passes them back to the sergeant major.
This is the symbolic moment when command passes from the old to the new.
Here you see the new commander preparing to give the order to "pass in review."
Following the change of command, the troops pass in review in front of the new commander. Here you see the U.S. Army Medical Command Band leading the pass in review. The band is not part of this battalion, but since they were participating in the ceremony, they came through first. If you ever get a chance to see a military band perform, I highly recommend it. They are wonderfully talented musicians and soldiers.