As first female commander of JMC, French takes command
July 2, 2013
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Brig. Gen. Kevin G. O'Connell addressed the Joint Munitions Command one last time as he turned the ammunition command over to Brig. Gen. Kristin K. French.
"I think what I am most proud of is the culture of the workforce, where we routinely work to see and assess ourselves and continuously strive for improvement -- every day better. You can't ask for any more than that," he said.
The Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command and JMC held their change of command ceremony July 2 on the historic grounds of Quarters One. The pleasant weather created a scenic view with the Mississippi River in the background.
French, former commander of 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Fort Knox, Ky., takes command of the JMC just six days before the start of sequestration's government administrative furlough.
O'Connell will move to Fort Bragg, N.C., where he will be the deputy chief of staff, Logistics, for the U.S. Army Forces Command.
Leading from a new helm, French looks forward to supporting fighting forces in a new way.
"Assuming command of a large organization such as JM&L LCMC and JMC is a tremendous responsibility, and I am absolutely humbled and honored to be standing before you," she said.
"I am keenly aware that the JMC team of professionals knows logistics -- they are the experts in producing, storing, supplying, (demilitarizing) and managing conventional ammunition for all the military services and I am looking forward to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them as we continue to provide that world-class support."
Gen. Dennis L. Via, commanding general, Army Materiel Command, served as the officiating officer, spoke of O'Connell's accomplishments while welcoming French to JMC.
"Under Brig. Gen. O'Connell's leadership, JMC masterfully executed shipping 2.3 million tons of ammunition worldwide with a value of nearly $40 billion. Since 2002, 328,000 short tons have been shipped to Southwest Asia. JMC's mission was accomplished, promises kept. Kevin, it goes without saying you have commanded superbly."
"Brig. Gen. French has effectively commanded at all levels. She also has extensive combat experience in Croatia, Kuwait, Iraq and most recently Afghanistan," he said.
Gen. Via stated that French previously worked with AMC as part of the Army Sustainment Command, and that he was confident in her leadership.
"I knew then, as I know now, that Kristin French is an exceptional leader and a great general officer. And I am confident she is the right commander and senior Army leader with the right experience to lead JMC into the future," he said.
Arriving last June, O'Connell's priorities for the JMC included 5 basic enduring points:
• Support to deployed forces
• Mission support (production, storage, distribute & demilitarization of ammunition)
• Taking care of our people and their families
• Command climate
Without knowing the full impact of sequestration, fiscal uncertainty became an unequivocal sixth priority.
However, there is another positive, according to O'Connell:"The result I've seen is stronger teamwork and relationships, because of the challenges we've been through with fiscal uncertainty."
And as O'Connell transitions to his next assignment, he clarifies the mission of JMC isn't as simplistic as implied with its 'ready, reliable, lethal' reputation.
"I could list lots of facts and figures, but in a nutshell, this awesome workforce has produced, stored, distributed, and demilitarized munitions in support of a joint force that is conducting missions all over the globe," he said. "Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines rely on and trust the Joint Munitions Command."
O'Connell thanked the Quad Cities and wished French well on being JMC's new leader.
"I want to thank the Quad (Cities) community for being such great neighbors. What a wonderful place to live, work and play. It didn't take long for the Quad Cities to find a special place in our hearts," he said. "Kristin, best of luck to you. You have a remarkable team here at JMC that somehow continues to get stronger. I have watched Kristin perform over the years and she is an amazing leader and will continue to move JMC in the right direction."
French thanked Gen. Via for his trust in her leadership, and is excited to work with other RIA commands as well as the Quad Cities.
"Sir, thank you for having the confidence in me to bring me back to AMC for this assignment. I am grateful for this opportunity, "she said. "I look forward to getting to know those of you from the local community, working with all the units and tenant organizations on Rock Island Arsenal, visiting our field operations, and continuing to build on JMC's successes."
**Headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., the Joint Munitions Command provides America's Joint Forces with ready, reliable and lethal munitions at the right place and time, in a cost effective manner, to enable successful military operations.