http://news.soc.mil/releases/News Archive/2010/July/100708-05.html FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, July 8, 2010) – The 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) welcomed its newest commander today during a change of command ceremony on Meadows Memorial Field. Col. Mark C. Schwartz took command of 3rd SFG (A) from Col. Gus Benton II in the ceremony, which marked two years and two deployments for Benton, as well as welcoming a familiar face in Schwartz to the group. Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), presided over the ceremony and said it was a "momentous" day for group. "It's a fantastic day for the Schwartz's and a tough day for the Benton's as they leave the group," Repass said. He bid farewell to Benton whom he said had a lot of which to be proud. "[Colonel Benton], I've appreciated your candor, courage and compassion – you did what was necessary for the mission and for the units,” he said. “The unit has performed superbly under your command." Repass in turn said Schwartz was the right man to replace Benton, and that everything he has done in his career as a Special Forces Soldier has led him to this point. "You are very well prepared and I have no doubt that you will excel," Repass said to Schwartz. Schwartz previously served with 3rd SFG (A) as the group executive officer and as the deputy commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan from October 2007 to June 2008. His most recent assignment was as the director of operations, Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan. "There is no greater honor than to be entrusted with the command of the Soldiers of 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the care of their Families during a time of war," Schwartz said. "I intend to reaffirm the trust you have bestowed upon me every day in command." Schwartz said he felt privileged and proud to be the newest 3rd SFG (A) commander. "It is great to be back in 3rd SFG (A) and standing among our regiment's most competent and capable operators," he said. Benton leaves the group, which during his time as commander more than 100 valor awards were earned by 3rd SFG (A) Soldiers. "I lack the words to adequately express what an honor and privilege it was to lead and serve with this resilient formation the past 24 months," Benton said. "My group command team and I witnessed in absolute amazement as these warriors made excellence: routine, the difficult: easy, and the complex: simple. To the Soldiers, civilians and Families of the 3rd Special Forces Group, you have the enduring gratitude and sincere admiration of the Benton Family. God speed, we thank you and I salute you." Benton deployed the group to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XIII and XV, serving as commander of CJSOTF-A. The 3rd SFG (A) is one of five active-duty Army Special Forces groups whose area of responsibility is the Central Asian states. The group is on a continuous deployment cycle in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.