Col. Otto Liller replaces Col. Robert McDowell as commander of 1st Special Forces Group at JBLM

By Gail Wood on July 2, 2014

In his parting speech as commander of the 1st Special Forces Group, Col. Robert McDowell praised his unit, thanked those who have assisted in his career and reflected on his two years at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

He said it's been a fulfilling and rewarding moment in his military career that began after graduating from Ball State University in 1987.

"This has truly been the highlight of my 27 years in service," McDowell said. "It's an honor I'll never be able to top. Thank you for everything. I wish you the best. You are the best."

McDowell, who has been reassigned to Fort Bragg, is replaced by Col. Otto Liller, who began his military career in 1993.

"I wish you the very best," McDowell said to Liller during a 45-minute change of command ceremony today. "I know you're going to love this job. You'll love every bit of it."

Liller, who has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines, is no stranger to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). Prior to his promotion as commander to replace McDowell, Liller commanded the 1st Battalion, the 1st Special Forces Group on Torii Station in Okinawa, helping support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines and throughout Asia Pacific.

Liller is looking forward to the challenge of his new assignment.

"This is more than a unit," Liller said. "This is a family and I'm glad to be home. I expect the utmost effort and professionalism from all of you. You should demand the utmost courage, compassion and leadership from me."

Liller first served with the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) from 1999-2002.

"Together we'll continue to uphold the finest traditions of the 1st Special Forces Group and the Special Forces Regiment," Liller said. "And we'll serve our nation proudly."

Brigadier General Darsie Rogers, the commanding general for USASFC, praised the performance of 1st Special Forces Group under McDowell.

"They're capable of adapting at a moments notice to a changing scenario or environment," Rogers said. "One that the 1st Special Forces Group has excelled here in the past two years under McDowell. They truly performed in any environment at any level."      

Rogers was confident that the 1st Special Forces Group will continue it's high level of performance under Liller.

"Now is the time to turn the page," Rogers said. "Otto and Wendy, you're no strangers to 1st Special Forces Group. You bring an in-depth knowledge of Asia and 1st Group. Under your command they'll continue to excel."

In 2005, Liller returned to 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) when he served as GWOT Operations Planner, Special Forces Company commander and Group Operations officer. After graduating from the University of Miami in 1993, Lillers' first assignment was with the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.