75th Ranger Regiment changes command
July 31, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (July 31, 2013) -- Current and former Rangers, Families, friends and members of the community watched as the 75th Ranger Regiment bid farewell to one commander and welcomed its next at the National Infantry Museum July 25.
Col. Christopher S. Vanek assumed command as the 18th commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment from Col. Mark W. Odom. Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, 12th commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, hosted the ceremony and commended the Rangers standing in formation.
"Every Ranger knows their creed by heart and truly upholds the honor, prestige, high 'espirit de corps' of our Ranger Regiment," Votel said. "The Ranger Regiment is battled hardened, with great men deployed now in harm's way. Our great nation owes these brave souls a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices both they and their Families have made."
Votel said the key to these values and traits starts with the leadership at the top. Commanding the regiment comes the responsibility of commanding the only force that has remained constantly deployed since the wars began in 2001.
"(Odom's) time in command has been defined by constant combat operations against the most dangerous terrorists and insurgent networks in Afghanistan," Votel said. "Time and time again, on more than 2,500 raids, the Rangers displayed a blend of talent, motivation, skill and raw courage that is their hallmark. And our nation is safer for it."
During his tenure, Odom was commended for his advancement of the Ranger casualty response system, which was a model program for combatant commanders designed to save lives on the battlefield. Votel also praised Odom on his professional development program for the leaders within the regiment.
"There is no doubt in my mind that our leaders will continue to live up to Abrams' charter and make the Army better for their small unit expertise and master leadership," he said. "There is simply not a better group of leaders in our Department of Defense, I know, I have looked. And Mark is the reason why."
Odom thanked the Rangers of the Regiment, and all those who gathered to see the men standing in formation. He acknowledged Rangers past and present who dedicated and invested so much in to the regiment.
"Most of you came here to the ceremony this morning not to watch three officers pass the colors, but rather to take stock in the regiment, to check up on your investment," he said. "Some of you made permanent investments with your sons and husbands, and remain part of it for life."
Odom said the Regiment produces many leaders, both in the enlisted and officer ranks throughout the Army. Currently standing there are 24 battalion commanders, 11 brigade commanders, 19 battalion command sergeants major, 16 brigade command sergeants major and 20 nominative or flag officer sergeants major who had once served in the 75th Ranger Regiment.
"The regiment is not a closed circuit system," he said. "It does not discriminate between supporter and assaulter. If you want to know what the future of the Army looks like, keep looking straight ahead."
Before turning the reins over to Vanek, Odom left the audience with one last statement on the regiment.
"The regiment is built around the organization rather than the individual. It has special people and it can perform special missions, but it is the organization, the Regiment that gives each one of us the opportunity to be special and do great things."
Vanek's previous assignment at the regiment was as the deputy commanding officer from 2009 to 2011. He previously served as commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from 2011 to 2012, and then attended the Naval War College from 2012 to 2013.
"Col. Chris Vanek is no stranger to the Ranger Regiment or to the path it has traveled over the last 12 years," Votel said. "He has held nearly every leadership position in this organization, and his experience in and out of the regiment will make this unit even better … there is simply no one better to pick up the mantle of leadership for this great regiment. And that is exactly what our Rangers deserve."