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1st SFG welcomes back old friend as it changes command

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:08PM July 10th, 2014

The 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) welcomed back an old hand July 2 as their new commander.

Colonel Robert C. McDowell handed off command of the 1st SFG to Col. Otto K. Liller, who has been part of the group three other times in his 20-year Army career.

“It’s great to be home,” Liller said in his speech to the companies of maroon- and green-bereted Soldiers on Watkins Field. “This is more than a unit. This is a family.”

Liller’s last command, 1st SFG’s 1st Battalion in Okinawa, ended in 2012. The Army then selected him below the zone for promotion to colonel.

Brigadier Gen. Darsie D. Rodgers, commanding general of Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), said in an introduction speech the 1st SFG has seen a wider array of operations for the past two years than other groups in the regiment.

The group covers the largest swath of territory, going beyond the Asian nations in the Pacific Rim, including India and Mongolia. The group also supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and was the first U.S. military unit to respond to the Philippine typhoon disaster.

“This group is in more places in Asia than any force in the (Department of Defense) inventory,” McDowell said.

McDowell is returning to Fort Bragg to become deputy commander of the Special Warfare Center and School. He said commanding the 1st SFG has been the “highlight of 27 years of serving the nation.”

Liller said his focus will be continuing to provide the best Special Forces capability possible for military and civilian leaders.

Professionalism and effort from the Soldiers is not just a desirable trait, but an expectation, Liller said, “and they should demand the utmost courage, compassion and leadership from me.”

The group’s focus remains on the Pacific Rim, but 1st SFG has hundreds of its Soldiers deployed at any given time, Liller said, and not always within the group’s region, requiring he and his Soldiers to be that much more flexible.

His career lends itself to that, having been assigned several times as a commander and an operations planner. Liller’s command deployments include Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and the Philippines as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He deployed to Afghanistan as an operations planner and officer.

Liller said he and his family appreciate the support provided by I Corps and the local communities, especially the group’s adoptive town, Yelm. He said command of 1st SFG likely is not his last assignment before he retires, but for now he wants to serve “to the utmost of my ability while in command.

“I truly believe that the 1st SFG(A) is the best Group in the Special Forces Regiment, and I will work tirelessly to ensure it stays that way.”