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New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. Gary Barney
New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. Gary Barney

Afghan and Iraq vet Barney takes over Niagara Falls Guard unit


Fri, Oct 13th 2023 12:55 pm


New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. Gary Barney, a Fairport resident, and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will take command of the New York Army National Guard's 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment, during an Oct. 15 ceremony at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

Lt. Col. Jason Secrest is the outgoing commander. They are expected to be joined by Col. Bradley Frank, the commander of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; and the soldiers of the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry.

The event will be a traditional change of command ceremony in which the flag of the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment, is transferred from Secrest to Barney by Frank, signifying the transition to a new commander. The unit's flag traditionally marked the location of the commander on the battlefield, and the ceremony allowed the soldiers to learn who they would follow into combat.

Barney enlisted in the New York Army National Guard in 2000 as an artilleryman before earning a commission as an officer through the ROTC program at SUNY Brockport. During that period, he took part in the New York Army National Guard response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

After becoming an officer, Barney served on active duty with the 4th Infantry Division as a fire support officer and troop executive officer with the 8th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, in Iraq. He transferred from field artillery to armor and deployed to Iraq a second time as the commander of a company in the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 64th Armor.

While on active duty he also served as the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and deployed to Afghanistan in support of the NATO mission to train the Afghan Army.

He finished his active-duty career as the commander of a cavalry troop in the 3rd Squadron of the 16th Cavalry Regiment and the operations officer of an infantry battalion.

After rejoining the New York Army National Guard, he deployed with the 42nd Infantry Division headquarters to Kuwait in 2019.

He also served as a full-time federal technician at New York National Guard headquarters and served as the officer in charge of the Guard's response to Lake Ontario flooding. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he served as the commander of a task force in New York City during the National Guard's pandemic response.

He has served as the 27th Infantry Brigade chief of operations and has served as the operations officer and executive officer of the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry.

Barney's awards include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the NATO Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in history from SUNY Brockport and a Master of Science in crisis and emergency management from the University of Nevada.

In civilian life, he is an industrial specialist at the Defense Contract Management Agency in Rochester.

Secrest is a resident of Washington, D.C., and his next assignment is with the National Guard Bureau headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

Secrest received his commission as a second lieutenant through the Officer Candidate School at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Secrest served as a tank platoon leader, cavalry troop executive officer, and as troop commander for 1st Squadron, 104th (Cavalry, Pennsylvania) Army National Guard.

After serving as a battalion logistics officer and assistant operations officer, he transferred to the New York Army National Guard to deploy as an Afghan Army mentor with the New York Stability & Transition Team.

Secrest has held multiple positions in the Army, National Guard Bureau, and New York National Guard staff, culminating in his assignment as deputy incident commander for Joint Task Force Javits in support of COVID-19 response operations.

He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College, Reserve Component National Security Course, Defense Strategy Course and the Air War College.

Secrest holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees and a Master of Business Administration from York College of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Public Administration from Pennsylvania State University.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medals, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.

The 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment, is headquartered in Niagara Falls and is comprised of more than 400 Soldiers in four companies, known as troops. Elements of the squadron are located across Western New York in Buffalo, Jamestown, Niagara Falls and Geneva.

The 101st Cavalry Regiment was constituted in December 1920 and headquartered in Brooklyn. The regiment was initially assigned to the 21st Cavalry Division.

The regiment was federalized in 1941 and saw combat in northwest Europe during World War II. Later in the war, it was attached to the 12th Armored Division.

Troops of the 101st Cavalry captured German field marshal Albert Kesselring, as well as the Japanese ambassador to Germany in May 1945. Following the war, the 101st was inactivated in October 1945 at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts.

The regiment was reformed as the 101st Armored Cavalry Regiment in January 1950, headquartered again in Brooklyn. On March 16, 1959, the unit was retitled the 101st Armored Regiment, until 1963 when the unit was renamed the 101st Cavalry and reduced in strength to one squadron.

In 1993, the 101st was consolidated with the 1st Battalion, 210th Armor, taking the 210th's lineage, but keeping its designation as the 101st Cavalry. The 1st squadron of the 101 Cavalry was disbanded in August 2006.

The 2nd Squadron is the reconnaissance element of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The 2nd Squadron also carries the lineage of the 1st Battalion, 127th Armor Regiment, which converted into the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry, when the New York National Guard reorganized in 2005-06.

The squadron deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and again in 2012.

The squadron, with additional support from the 27th Infantry Brigade, deployed to Ukraine in 2017 to support the training of Ukrainian soldiers.

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