CHIEVRES, Belgium - USAG Benelux welcomed Command Sgt. Maj. Allan Fairley June 8 as he assumed responsibility of the garrison from Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Ford during an official ceremony on Caserne Daumerie.

"This change of responsibility is a significant event," said Col. James Drago, the garrison commander. "It is a public demonstration of the continuity of leadership, and it allows all of us to take time to recognize two outstanding senior noncommissioned officers."

Ford came to the Benelux in 2007, and he said competence was his watchword.

"My two basic responsibilities will always remain uppermost in my mind - accomplishment of the mission and the welfare of the Soldiers," said Ford.

Drago acknowledged Ford's competence over the past three years. He said the command sergeant major was a key advisor, supporter, critic, confidant and friend.

"In difficult situations, you were quick to research regulations, to ensure we do what's right, and you're just as quick to apply common sense to any situation, always keeping the Soldiers in mind," Drago told Ford during the ceremony.

To extend his appreciation, Drago presented Ford a Legion of Merit just prior to the ceremony. The citation noted that the command sergeant major "improved quality of life for Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and civilians and displayed remarkable commitment to the care and well-being of all members of the community."

Ford will continue his career in the Army as a command sergeant major in the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas.

"This is a tough goodbye for me," he said. "This job is the best job in the Army, mainly because I am helping service members, families, people every day.

"Also, this is a tough goodbye because I am not only departing the Benelux, but I am leaving Installation Management Command, a command that has evolved into one of the best commands in the Army," he added.

IMCOM-Europe's Command Sgt. Maj. Tracey Anbiya, a guest speaker for the ceremony, assured Ford that IMCOM would continue to be there for him and his family as they head to Texas.

"Ralph, you have been nothing short of a blessing," she said.

"Rest assured that Command Sgt. Maj. Ford will go to his new position knowing that team Benelux will persevere to get the job done," she told the crowd. "While we bid farewell to him and his family, we also welcome a new family to the Benelux community."

After grasping the colors from the commander, Fairley assumed responsibility of the garrison and its Soldiers.

"I am grateful that Command Sgt. Maj. Allan Fairley was selected to fill Command Sgt. Maj. Ford's boots," said Drago. "Command Sgt. Maj. Fairley has spent a lot of his Army career in many different areas of the world, going from the states to Korea, to Germany, including multiple deployments in support of combat and humanitarian operations.

"The time he has spent in Stuttgart, Germany, has also prepared him well for this international environment," added Drago.

Fairley's international experience is evident by the fact that the master rated parachutist is authorized to wear British, German, Moroccan and Czech Republic parachutist wings.

As the ceremony concluded, in the company of service members and U.S. and host nation civilians from both Belgium and The Netherlands, Fairley was humbled by the opportunity to lead as the senior NCO for the Benelux.

"As much as I would like to think that this is about the two senior leaders who are being recognized this morning, that could not be further from the truth," said Fairley. "This ceremony, in all its symbolism, is about the people that call Benelux home."

"I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead as we continue to sharpen the sword," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16