Col. David Wood, commander of 1st Brigade and the Leader's Training speaks at Thursday's change of command ceremony as outgoing commander Col. Michael Blahovec, center, and Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith look on. Photo by Corey Ohlenkamp

Col. David Wood, commander of 1st Brigade and the Leader’s Training speaks at Thursday’s change of command ceremony as outgoing commander Col. Michael Blahovec, center, and Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith look on. Photo by Corey Ohlenkamp

By Sydney Callis
Leader’s Training Course

U.S. Army Cadet Command’s 1st Brigade and the Leader’s Training Course are under new leadership.

Col. David Wood assumed command Thursday from Col. Michael Blahovec, and Command Sgt. Maj. Darin Smith passed responsibility as command sergeant major to Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Martinez. Both Blahovec and Smith had held their positions for about two years.

“We’re very blessed to have had Col. Blahovec and Command Sgt. Maj. Smith at the helms of leadership of this great organization for these past two years,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command. “I’m sure over time things will change at 1st Brigade. They always do as leaders come in and out. Col. Wood and Command Sgt. Maj. Martinez will undoubtedly make changes. That’s inevitable. It’s not a bad thing; it’s a good thing.”

The brigade, which encompasses 11 senior and junior military colleges across the county, also runs the annual Leader’s Training Course at Fort Knox, which prepares college students for entry into the Senior Army ROTC program and helps prepare them to eventually commission into the Army.

Wood comes to lead 1st Brigade from the Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, where he served as chief of the Commander’s Initiatives Group.

During the Thursday morning ceremony at Olive Theater, Wood referenced the coincidence of the ceremony with the 69th anniversary of D-Day to highlight the selfless service and dedication of Soldiers from past to present.

“The incredible history of this great institution called the Army, and the daily sacrifices of the men and women who are currently serving and have served is what makes taking command of this brigade such an honor,” Wood said.

Wood, who will oversee operation of Leader’s Training Course, said he is excited to have the responsibility to select, educate and train the Army’s future officers.

“We are essentially writing the future history of the Army,” Wood said. “That is a huge responsibility I will not take lightly.”

Blahovec leaves 1st Brigade to be provost marshal of the Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis, Va.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to command this brigade for the past two years,” he said. “I know that sounds like a cliché, but for those who know me, you know that comes from the heart.”

Blahovec thanked all the people he worked with for their dedication and wished the brigade luck as they lead the Leader’s Training Course.

Martinez comes to the brigade from being the operations sergeant major for the 3/1st Infantry Division at Fort Knox. After 32 years of service in the Army, Command Sgt. Maj. Smith is retiring and will be moving to Huntsville, Ala.

“We’re going to miss your leadership,” Maj. Gen. Smith said. “Just having that presence around, having that confidence around that senior noncommissioned officers exude is something that is not easily attained and not easy to retain. You’ve always been the icon that everybody looks to.”

Maj. Gen. Smith thanked Blahovec and Command Sgt. Maj. Smith for their service. He then expressed his confidence in Wood and Martinez.

“Take it, run with it and have a great time,” Maj. Gen. Smith said.

For a photo gallery of the event, visit

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