ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Army Reserve's new command sergeant major challenged noncommissioned officers to improve themselves, their Soldiers and their units despite limited resources.

Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas became the 12th Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve and the Command Sergeant Major of United States Army Reserve Command during a Tuesday afternoon ceremony at the Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon.

"I am humbled and honored to be selected as the 12th Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve," he said.

Thomas follows Command Sgt. Maj. James M. Lambert, who has been the interim command sergeant major since November.

"Going forward, and for the foreseeable future, we will operate under fiscal constraints," he said. "While I recognize the challenge, I also see opportunities for us to effectively and efficiently use the resources we do have. We will now have time to slow things down and focus more on basic Soldier skills, to include individual training, sergeant's time training, physical training and leader development."

Continuity is important, but it is just as important to embrace change, he added.

"As we transition from an army of war to an army of preparation, leadership is critical and NCOs must provide that leadership," Thomas said. "We must provide direction, instill discipline and hold ourselves and our Soldiers accountable for meeting the Army standards."

The command sergeant major's position is the right hand of the command team, said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, the Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General of United States Army Reserve Command.

"He is absolutely the right Soldier and the right leader to help me take the Army Reserve to new levels of success," he said.

Lambert, who leaves his position to deploy overseas with the 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, said much has happened in the six months he served as the interim command sergeant major.

"It has been a sincere honor for me and my family to be able to serve all of the Army Reserve during this time of transition," he said. "I have been truly impressed with the staff and leadership across the headquarters and throughout our units. We really do have some of the finest noncommissioned officers serving together for the good of our Soldiers, civilian employees and family members."

Talley praised Lambert's selfless service.

"It's never about him," he said. "It's always about service to others."

Talley also thanked Lambert's wife, Denise, and his family for their support.

"The Lamberts are simply the best," he said. "We are a better Army Reserve because of your service."

The Army Reserve has never been more indispensable to the nation's defense, Talley said. The command sergeant major is involved in many aspects of the job, including assisting an advising the CAR or as well as serving as a direct line to the Sergeant Major of the Army, the Forces Command sergeant major and all the command sergeants major in the field.

"This is no ordinary sergeant major's position," he added. "Both of these men are anything but ordinary."

Thomas joined the Army in 1984 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., after completing high school and has served with distinction in many active and reserve component leadership positions. He deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003-2004 as a logistician and to Afghanistan in 2008-2009 as an infantryman in an embedded training team assisting the Afghan Army. He also provided support to the Hurricane Katrina cleanup as part of the 356th Quartermaster Battalion from Laurel, Miss. His most recent job was as the command sergeant major for the 84th Training Command at Fort Knox, Ky.

Thomas has an associate degree in Human Services from Midlands Technical College in Columbia, S.C., a bachelor's in political science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., and an MBA from Trident University in Cypress, Calif.