Army War College community welcomes new commandant
June 17, 2014
CARLISLE BARRACKS, Pa. (June 17, 2014) -- The "passing of the colors" is the symbolic passing of authority for a military unit which is, in turn, symbolized by the unit Colors under which a unit fights, records historic deeds, and inspires Soldiers for the future. In today's ceremony, the passing of the colors signified the transfer of responsibility from one U.S. Army War College leader to the next.
Maj. Gen. Bill Rapp took command of the Army War College from outgoing Commandant Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, during a change-of-command ceremony presided over by Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John Campbell, here, Friday.
The time-honored Army tradition played out in front of professional and personal colleagues, initiated when the 28th Infantry Division Band ceremonial ensemble of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard played Ruffles and Flourishes, and the salute battery of the 1st Battalion, 109th Field Artillery (55th Brigade Combat Team), fired an artillery salute. Later in the ceremony, "the last round" was given to Cucolo by his long-time aide, Maj. Jarod Parker.
Following tradition, Campbell "farewelled" the outgoing leader before "hailing" the new commandant. The great thing about our Army is the depth of the great leadership bench, he noted.
"Tony's character is his strongest trait and his leadership was always focused on enabling and protecting his team, his Soldiers," said Campbell about Cucolo. "He demanded the trust we need between leaders and their Soldiers, and the trust that we need between our leaders and our Army. He is a Soldier's leader."
"As 3rd [Infantry Division] commander, he traveled all over Iraq in order to personally to meet every Soldier under his command. His Soldiers loved him, just as the people here at the Army War College love him. They love him because they trust that he has the moral courage to do what is right no matter what.
"Like most Soldiers, Tony drew his strength from his family," Campbell continued. "He wouldn't call them 'dependents,' because the Cucolo family is made up of a fierce group of individuals dependent upon no one, and Ginger is from Texas so that should say it all. Ginger shares her passion that makes her husband such a great warrior -- her unyielding commitment to all of our Soldiers, all of our families -- 'legendary' doesn't say enough. Years ago, Ginger wrote a book titled, Dog Tags, and in it she talks about the human stories of our service members and describes the commitment that comes about from hanging these around your neck. A simple thing -- but what it means to our Soldiers."
"Tony re-invigorated the Army War College, carrying out reforms that enhanced the rigor and the relevance of the program, already recognized for premier education of our strategic leaders," said Campbell.
"Under his tenure the Army War College team established the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute as the Department of Defense's joint proponent for peacekeeping and stability operations," Campbell said. "He launched a new post-senior service college program, and they implemented new courses designed to improve strategic-mindedness and communication skills for all our general/ flag officers. They built and started the first-ever course for senior non-commissioned officers, intended to develop strategic competence for command sergeant majors at the two-, three-, and four-star level.
"Under the leadership of Tony Cucolo, the War College became a direct reporting unit, a DRU, to the Chief of Staff of the Army, so the Chief could leverage this institution as the Center for Army Strategic Thought, and to positively influence the national level of dialogue on strategy."
Campbell described Rapp's career as a great balance of experience from tactical to strategic and in the operational and institutional Army -- the ideal preparation to build the next strategic leaders as commandant of the Army War College.
"First Captain at West Point, Ph.D. from Stanford, commanded at the battalion and brigade level, including the 555th Engineer Brigade in combat in Iraq, Commandant at West Point, and for the last two years I've seen him as the Chief of the Office of Legislative Liaison, working directly for the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff," said Campbell.
"Bill, you've been specifically placed here as demonstration of the Chief of Staff's commitment to leader development, and I know that, as with Tony we sent the very best, and we do that with Bill Rapp.
"Count on me to keep the momentum that you've built over the past two years in ensuring that this war college remains central to the development of strategic leadership and remains and serves as the centerpiece to the strategic renaissance, so needed by our Army after 12 years of non-stop war," Rapp said to Cucolo when he took the podium.
"When I look out at the talent in this room and think about the access we have to senior leaders of our Army, through DOD, our government, and academia, to assist with that charge, I'm greatly encouraged that we'll continue to earn that reputation as being vital to our Army and of being a collegial partner with those in our Army and in DOD, working toward those same goals.
"We will continue to harness the brain power of both faculty and students to drive forward the thinking about strategy and about landpower and about the future of our Army in an uncertain world. This mission's very exciting to me," said Rapp. "I'm reminded that it's a gift to be able to lead this great institution that shaped me and so many others -- so many in our military and other militaries around the world."
50TH COMMANDANT SINCE THE 1901 ESTABLISHMENT OF THE U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE
Maj. Gen. William Rapp, his wife, Debbie, and two teen sons have re-located from the Washington, D.C. area, where he served most recently as the Army's Chief of Legislative Liaison. His daughter is a West Point cadet. This assignment marks the Rapp family's return to Carlisle Barracks, 10 years after he was an Army War College student, in the Class of 2004.
A 1984 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Rapp has served 30 years in the continental United States, Germany, Japan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, culminating in the two-year assignment working with Congress at the Pentagon. Rapp commanded an Airborne Engineer company in the First Gulf War, a mechanized engineer battalion in Germany, a multi-component Engineer Group in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the National Support Element for U.S. Forces Afghanistan. He served a year with Gen. David Petraeus in Baghdad, Iraq, during the surge of 2007-2008, as his Initiatives Group Chief. Rapp commanded the Northwestern Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and was the 72nd Commandant of Cadets at West Point.
Rapp earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University, served a year in Tokyo as a Council on Foreign Relations fellow, and taught International Relations in the Social Sciences Department at West Point. Rapp brings to the Army War College an appreciation of the opportunity to educate and develop senior leaders and to serve as a catalyst for the strategic renaissance needed by our Army today, he said.