'Vital Mission Of Training Soldiers' Nears End
June 16, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--Lt. Col. Sean Cusker participated in an official troop inspection of Headquarters & Alpha, Bravo and Charlie companies one last time during a Thursday morning retirement ceremony on Warrior Field, located in the shadow of the Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School and the Arsenal’s Soldier barracks.
But this event was much more than a retirement ceremony for an officer and decorated war veteran. It was also the last time the 832nd Ordnance Battalion would stand together in ceremony at Redstone Arsenal. At the close of the ceremony, the battalion cased its colors for transfer to Fort Lee, Va.
Even the battalion’s new commander " Lt. Col. Demetrius Jackson, who is also a decorated war veteran " isn’t assigned to report for duty at Redstone, which makes Cusker the last commander of the 832nd at Redstone. Jackson is assigned to Fort Lee, with plans to visit the remaining troops at Redstone as needed before the battalion is fully transferred to its new headquarters, set for later this summer.
“We still have a few great Soldiers here for a little longer,” Jackson said.
Those Soldiers, about 200 in all, will remain at Redstone until they complete their ordnance training. While at Redstone, they are also making preparations for their first duty assignment.
“The AIT (advanced individual training) battalion is the last line before Soldiers move on to the operational Army,” Jackson said. “Our job is to make sure they transition well.”
The 832nd has been part of OMEMS at Redstone for 25 years, serving as a training battalion for Soldiers who came to Redstone for ordnance instruction following their basic training course. It is moving to newly constructed facilities at Fort Lee as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission requirement.
“We’re closing the doors of OMEMS” and the “vital mission of training Soldiers” at Redstone, said Col. Lee Merritt, commander of the 59th Ordnance Brigade, which is the 832nd’s senior command.
“A unit’s change of command is a significant public display of the tradition of continuity and leadership” and represents the Army’s “promise to Soldiers in the unit and to America to continue to be steadfast in the mission,” he said.
Cusker, a 24-year veteran who came to Redstone two years ago to lead the 832nd, has provided the management and leadership skills needed to oversee “a significant measurable increase in the ability of Soldiers” while also managing the transition of the battalion to Fort Lee, which involved the movement of different segments within the battalion at different times as various ordnance training courses concluded at Redstone.
“You improved training and readiness of every Soldier you touched,” Merritt said of Cusker, adding that Cusker and his command staff represented “skills found nowhere else in abundance in our Army today … You and your staff were responsible for the training and development of over 1,000 Soldiers at any given time. Your efforts have helped make this unit one of the best in TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command).”
Merritt thanked Cusker for his “outstanding leadership in the vital mission of training Soldiers and enhancing the combat mission” while also welcoming another outstanding leader in Jackson.
In his comments, Cusker, who will remain in Huntsville with his wife and two school-age daughters, said that over the years “thousands of ordnance Soldiers for our Army have left Redstone Arsenal prepared to face tough challenges” and the last remaining Soldiers of the 832nd “represent all those tens of thousands of ordnance Soldiers that have come to Redstone Arsenal and trained.”
He thanked the local community along with Arsenal tenants for their support of Soldiers. He mentioned the “steadfast service for Soldiers” provided by such organizations as Fox Army Health Center, Army Community Service, Military Personnel Office, Military Pay Office and Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation as well as the mayors of Huntsville and Madison, and the members of the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army.
“Redstone Arsenal is absolutely a special place to live and serve because of the character of the people and their support of Soldiers during these 25 years,” Cusker said. “I’ve seen this community’s genuine care and love of American Soldiers.”
Taking the yoke of command, Jackson thanked his family for their support and thanked “God for allowing me the opportunity to stand before you today and take command of such a unique organization. I am pledged to continue to build on your success.”
During the ceremony, a Chinook helicopter flew over Warrior Field. It was symbolic of the changing landscape as Redstone’s mission shifts from ordnance training to focus more fully on the development, fielding, training and sustainment of the Army’s aviation and missile assets.
Whether at Redstone or Fort Lee, the mission of the 832nd will not change, Jackson said, and will continue to both provide ordnance instruction to Soldiers while also preparing them for active duty.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to command young Soldiers,” the 832nd’s new commander said.