1st MEB to Welcome New Commander - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

1st MEB to Welcome New Commander

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FORT POLK, La. – The 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade hosts a change of command ceremony Thursday at 9 a.m. on Headquarters Field to welcome incoming Col. Bret Van Camp and bid farewell to outgoing Col. David Theisen.

Van Camp hails from Springfield, Mo., but graduated high school in Spring Valley, Minn. He returned to Missouri, joined the National Guard and ultimately received his bachelor of science degree in biology from Southwest Missouri State University in 1988. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a regular Army officer in the Chemical Corps through the university's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program. He was promoted to his present rank May 1, 2010.

His previous assignments include: battalion chemical officer, 2/68 Armor Battalion, Baumholder, Germany; Smoke Platoon leader, 25th Chemical Company, Bad Kreuznach, Germany; company executive officer, 25th Chemical Company, Buedingen, Germany; aviation brigade chemical officer, 10th Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; commander, 51st Chemical Company (RECON), Fort Polk; OIC, Warfighter Support within the Directorate of Chemical Warfighter Operations, Fort McClellan, Ala; S3, 3rd Chemical Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; deputy division chemical officer, 10th Mountain Division; headquarters commandant, 10th Mountain Division; division chemical officer, 10th Mountain Division, and the Joint Staff, J8, Joint Requirements Office for CBRN Defense. He then commanded two chemical battalions: The 82nd, which trained all CBRN enlisted Soldiers and the 84th, which, after merger with the 82nd, added all officer and functional training. After command, he remained at Fort Leonard Wood and was most recently the assistant commandant of the Chemical Corps. Van Camp also completed the Senior Service College.

His deployments, all with the 10th Mountain Division, included tours in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia; Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti; and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Van Camp's military awards and decorations include: The Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (four oak leaf clusters); the Army Commendation Medal (three oak leaf clusters); the Army Achievement Medal (four oak leaf clusters); the Meritorious Unit Award (one oak leaf cluster); the Army Superior Unit Award; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (one oak leaf cluster); the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Humanitarian Service Medal (with Bronze Star), and the UN Medal for actions in Somalia. He also holds the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge, the parachutist badge, and the Bronze German Efficiency Badge.

He received his first master's degree in Military Arts and Science in 2001 through the Command and General Staff Officer College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and his second in Business Administration in November 2006 from the University of Phoenix. He is a Senior Service College graduate. He is married to the former Shelly Davis of Bar Harbor, Maine, and has four children and one granddaughter.

Theisen has commanded the 1st MEB since May 12, 2010, leading a joint organization that consisted of more than 3,100 Soldiers, Airman and Marines from 21 separate units, spread across 12 installations, in support of joint task force-civil support under U.S. Army North and U.S. Northern Command. His vision, leadership and guidance ensured that the task force was trained and prepared to provide support to local, state, and federal authorities after a natural or manmade disaster within 24 to 48 hours. This support included construction assets, technical rescue capabilities, satellite and ultra-high frequency radio communications, signal intelligence capabilities and chemical and military police assets capable of full spectrum operations.

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