SMDC celebrates change of responsibilities
April 26, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Members of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command witnessed Command Sgt. Maj. James N. Ross assume the top-level noncommissioned officer responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Larry S. Turner to become the command's 10th command sergeant major.
During the change of responsibility ceremony April 26, Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general, passed the ceremonial sword to Ross, entrusting him as the new SMDC senior enlisted advisor.
"Today we mark the transition of responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Turner to Command Sgt. Maj. Ross and continue the tradition of the ceremonial exchange of the noncommissioned officer sword. The sword is a symbol of the authority of the NCO; we use it in this ceremony to represent the relinquishing of responsibility and authority from the outgoing to the incoming command sergeant major," Formica said during the ceremony. "NCOs run our Army. They are the backbone of our force. They are where the rubber meets the road making sure orders are executed promptly and properly. Most Soldiers have a hard time remembering the names of their first commanders, but they never forget the name or face of their drill sergeant or their first platoon sergeant or their first first sergeant.
"At the top of the NCO Corps are the command sergeants major; they are the senior enlisted leaders in our units from battalion and larger; they are responsible to lead, train, discipline, care for, and serve the Soldiers, civilians, and families in our Army," he added. "They are our standard bearers. And together with their commanders -- they form command teams responsible for the readiness of our units to perform their mission."
Formica thanked Turner for all of his 35 years of service in the Army and for his partnership in the command team for SMDC.
"As you read Command Sgt. Maj. Turner's bio in the program, you will note his impressive credentials of leadership and courage; and a legacy of service -- taking care of Soldiers and their families," Formica said. "He has spent the majority of his career at the tip of the spear in light infantry and airborne units, and as a trainer. He has 52 total months of combat experience, which includes three tours in Afghanistan, one in Panama, and one in Saudi Arabia. He is among the most deployed Soldiers in the Army.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Turner often says that when he got here he had no clue about what SMDC/ARSTRAT did. But he learned, and then spent his time making sure the rest of the Army's senior NCOs also found out," he continued. "He made 'rocket science' relevant to the Soldier; he helped translate our space and missile defense tasks into English so they could be better understood by our Army. But, that is just how Command Sgt. Maj. Turner operates -- he sees a gap and fills it. Command Sgt. Maj. Turner will leave a legacy at SMDC/ARSTRAT of strength, a passion for Soldiers, a thirst for knowledge, and by his quiet professionalism.
"CSM Turner, you should take great pride in your accomplishments, but, more importantly, in the many people who you have influenced here at SMDC/ARSTRAT and in all the units who now have a better understanding of the capabilities available to them through your aggressive campaign of engagement with Soldiers and units that are better trained -- more ready," Formica added. "You can walk away today with a strong sense that you did things right. You made a difference not only in the lives of countless Soldiers and civilians here at SMDC/ARSTRAT, but truly for the past 35 years."
Formica then welcomed Ross onto the team and said he looks forward to the future of SMDC.
"We know the Army doesn't just let a great NCO depart without having another one in the wings. Quite frankly, that's what makes our Army the best in the world, we have a professional NCO Corps that is the envy of our allies and is feared by our adversaries," Formica said. "Command Sgt. Maj. James Ross and his family are no strangers to SMDC/ARSTRAT. He served previously as the command sergeant major for the 1st Space Battalion and later as the command sergeant major for the 1st Space Brigade. He comes to us now from his assignment as the command sergeant major for the 32d Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Fort Bliss, Texas.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Ross, Ashley, we know you will hit the ground running in this globally deployed, regionally aligned command, split-based between here and Colorado Springs, Colo., that provides space and missile defense capabilities to our Army, U.S. Strategic Command and the nation," he added. "We thank you in advance for your leadership and service on behalf of the Soldiers, civilians and families of this command."
Turner became SMDC's senior enlisted advisor in June 2010, and as he prepares to retire after 35 years of service, he thanked everyone in the command for supporting him and talked about the uniqueness of the command.
"Thank you, Lt. Gen. Formica, for your kind words. Let me say up front that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your command sergeant major," Turner said. "When I arrived here on the 10th of June, 2010, I really wasn't sure what a Space and Missile Defense Command was, or what its Soldiers did. As a combat airborne infantryman, we're exposed to the culture and language of the country before we deploy. I sure could have used some exposure to SMDC before coming here.
"Talk about culture shock. Nothing in my 35 years of service -- including multiple combat tours and jumping out of perfectly good air planes -- had prepared me for a command with Soldiers and civilians in 11 different time zones," he continued. "We operate from 21 locations around the world, which has to make us the most dispersed Army Service Component Command in the Army -- I can literally pick up the phone and say 'good morning, good afternoon and good evening' to members of our command at virtually any time of day here in Huntsville.
"Once I arrived, it didn't take long for me to realize just how important our mission is," Turner said. "I've spent much of the last two years and 10 months educating my fellow senior enlisted leaders and Warfighters concerning what SMDC/ARSTRAT brings to the fight -- and how absolutely vital our contributions are to mission success."
He then took time to thank those who have supported him during his time in the Army and what the Army and his family have meant to him.
"When I raised my hand and enlisted 35 years ago this month, I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, but the Army was a gateway to a better way of life," Turner said. "I'm proud to say that I've given the Army my all for 35 years -- that seems like a really long time, but it has passed quickly. At times I still feel like that lanky young private who was joining up in hopes of a better life. Other times I feel the wear and tear of 35 years of service to my nation.
"I could not have served without the love and support of my wonderful wife, Barbara. Together we've built the life and family that I could only dream of as a young man," he added.
Ross, a native of Battle Creek, Mich., enlisted in the Army in September 1985 and has served in various locations such as Saudi Arabia; Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, Texas; Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.; among others.
He thanked Formica for the opportunity for him and his wife, Ashley, to serve in the command and thanked Turner for his assistance as he prepared to come aboard the command.
"Ashley and I are extremely excited about this incredible opportunity and look forward to integrating into the command, Redstone Arsenal, and also the great city of Huntsville and the surrounding communities," Ross said. "At the outset, I'd like to congratulate Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Turner and his wife, Barbara, for the past 35 years of selfless service leading Soldiers and taking care of their families. Ashley and I are extremely grateful for your assistance during this transition. Best of luck as you begin your next chapter. We wish you both God Speed and all the best in the years ahead."
Ross said he was proud to be a part of the SMDC team and looks forward to what the future holds.
"I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the 10th command sergeant major of SMDC/ARSTRAT. Lt. Gen. Formica, thank you for your faith and confidence," Ross said. "I'm committed to enhancing the great reputation of this command through a continued emphasis on educating the Army and joint senior enlisted leaders on the unique and substantial role our command has within the joint force, our Army, with U.S. Strategic Command, and the supported geographic combatant commanders across the globe.
"Although the command is split-based, multi-component, diverse and dispersed, I want to emphasize my focus on maintaining a 'One Command' mindset," he continued. "I will insist on close collaboration and teamwork from all organizations within this command with a never-ending commitment to those who are deployed and serving in harm's way.
"Without reservation, I can comfortably state that without the support of my wife, Ashley, and my three incredible children, Lillian, Jack, and Amelia, I would not be assuming this position today," Ross said. "Like many military families they have borne the brunt of my long hours, deployments and TDYs, yet they continue to empower me through their resiliency and love. Lastly, I'd like to recognize my parents, sisters, nephew and friends for being here today to support Ashley and me. It means a lot to us that you made the trip to celebrate this new journey."