New top NCO takes charge
June 13, 2012
By VINCE LITTLE
FORT BENNING, Ga. (June 13, 2012) -- The Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning swapped out its top enlisted Soldiers on Friday.
Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello took over the position during a change of responsibility ceremony at McGinnis-Wickam Hall's Marshall Auditorium. He replaces Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Hardy, who's retiring after more than 26 years on active duty.
Carabello had been command sergeant major of the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. In March 2011, he accompanied the unit on its yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, where the 26-year Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient conducted combat operations in Kandahar province. This marks his first assignment at Fort Benning since June 2000, but he completed a large portion of his training here prior to that.
"I'm extremely excited," said Carabello, the second Soldier to assume the role since the MCoE was activated nearly three years ago. "Everything that made me successful starting out as a Soldier started right here at Fort Benning, and it's followed me throughout my entire career. … The changes throughout the installation have been absolutely staggering."
Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, now the former MCoE and Fort Benning commanding general, said the selection process was intense but praised Carabello as a "proven combat leader and warrior (with) an unbelievable record."
"You can instantly see and feel his passion," Brown told the audience. "Great leaders around the Army have all contacted us and said, 'This guy's the real deal.' … He's an incredibly agile leader, and we're very glad to have him here.
"He brings this wealth of operational experience. He's known for being ruthlessly focused on standards and discipline. That's pretty damn good. … I don't think you can go wrong with that. That's what we need; that's what we want."
Carabello has deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. At Fort Benning from 1996 to 1999, he was a rifle platoon sergeant in A Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Carabello also served as a senior instructor at Pathfinder School in 1999.
The command sergeant major said he's passionate about serving Soldiers and Families, and they can expect his best effort and a "seamless transition" in the post's top enlisted position. He pledged to continue Hardy's work and perhaps bring a fresh perspective on initiatives such as Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and empowering the squad.
"It's my responsibility now to take all that to the next level," he said, "so the rest of the Army can see what we can do better as a force. But it's important for us to understand that the Soldier is the best piece of technology that we can ever have. It's not so much the equipment; it's making sure our Soldiers are trained to the best of our ability. That's what makes our Army the best in the world."
Hardy, meanwhile, served under two commanding generals after becoming the MCoE's highest-ranking NCO in March 2010.
The former 75th Ranger Regiment command sergeant major went from "busting down doors" in combat to fighting for ideas and concepts in the Pentagon's hallways, Brown said, adding that Hardy focused on blending Infantry and Armor here from Day 1 and made both branches better.
"He was the best battle buddy anybody could ask for," the general said. "It's amazing what he's accomplished. He's a consummate professional who leads from the front and one of the most respected and knowledgeable Soldiers I've ever been around.
"He's staying in the area, too, so (his) legacy and legend will live on for a long, long time."
Hardy deflected the praise but said programs of instruction at the Maneuver Center will have a "tremendous impact" on the Army moving forward.
"It's been an awesome privilege and experience to watch these Soldiers in action who know what right looks like," he said. "It's not about me; it's about those Soldiers. … That's how I went about executing my duties and responsibilities. I don't have words to express how awesome it's been."