Ulibarri honored, new top enlisted Soldier assumes post
May 22, 2009
By Vince Little
- CSM Earl Rice is the new command sergeant major for Fort Benning and the U.S. Army Infantry Center
- He replaces CSM Joe Ulibarri, who retired May 19 after 27 years on active duty
- Rice said he's committed to taking care of Soldiers, civilians, families and retirees at Fort Benning.
Fort Benning and the U.S. Army Infantry Center swapped out its top enlisted Soldiers on Monday.
CSM Earl Rice took over the position from CSM Joe Ulibarri during a change-of-responsibility ceremony at the Benning Conference Center. Ulibarri retired Tuesday after 27 years on active duty.
MG Michael Barbero, the commanding general, said he was paying tribute to "two distinguished noncommissioned officers who enjoy sterling reputations among Infantrymen and across our Army."
Rice arrives from Vicenza, Italy - where he was the Southern European Task Force's command sergeant major - while Ulibarri is staying at Benning in a civilian role. In a few weeks, he'll become a liaison officer for the post's Asymmetrical Warfare Group.
Rice spent two years as Barbero's command sergeant major at the Joint Readiness Training Center on Fort Polk, La. They also served together in Iraq.
"He was a superb combat leader, leading from the front," Barbero told the audience. "We're honored to have a combat Soldier of your caliber here at Fort Benning as we transition to the future Maneuver Center of Excellence."
The general also praised Ulibarri as an Infantry leader who made a difference at every step of his military career, which included a 15-month deployment to Baghdad and Mosul as command sergeant major for the Fort Wainwright, Alaska-based 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
"He's helped our Soldiers become more adaptive thinkers against the enemy we face today," Barbero said.
Ulibarri said his tour with the 172nd was probably the most rewarding of his career. "It made an indelible impression on me," he said.
Ulibarri, who joined the USAICS leadership in Febuary 2007, thanked his family for their support throughout his Army travels and expressed gratitude to Fort Benning's leadership. He also lauded the Soldiers.
"They're the reason I stayed in this uniform so long, and why I'll stay in the civilian position for many years to come," he said. "I can't think of a better mission than preparing our Soldiers to fight ... This doesn't feel like the end. It feels like the beginning."
Rice's 27-year career includes a stint as a drill sergeant at Fort Benning in 1990.
A highly decorated Soldier, he's held numerous command sergeant major positions and also is a member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club. The Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for valor are among his awards.
Rice said he's committed to taking care of Soldiers, civilians, families and retirees at Fort Benning.
He said he understands the stresses faced by Soldiers within the Army's high-operations tempo.
"I know what our Soldiers are going through with multiple rotations," he said. "We want to teach the right courses, skill sets, and (tactics, techniques and procedures)."
Through a unified approach, Rice said he'd make sure the Infantry Center continues producing Soldiers the Army needs to meet today's demands.
"We'll capitalize on the great talent we have here and build on the team," he said. "Team stands for 'Together, Everyone Accomplishes the Mission.' None of us can do it by ourselves."