By Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the ArmyMay 15, 2013
Thank you. I noticed the last time I was here the podium was higher. Maybe it is because Dave Rodriguez was the FORSCOM Commander (Laughter). Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for attending today's Promotion and Assumption of Command Ceremony. It is always great coming down here to Fort Bragg. It is always extremely inspiring to me to come onto this installation. It has great Soldiers who represent such a wide variety of what the Army has to offer. From the Reserve Component to our Airborne Forces to our Special Operation Forces, it really does represent such a key part of our Army. So it is always great to come here. It is a great visualization of what our Army does everyday. So it is great to be here.
Today's ceremony is a time to celebrate the extraordinary leadership of General Dan Allyn as well as to celebrate the great Soldiers of Forces Command. I am not surprised that Dan has made it to this level of command in our Army. Back in 1979, he went to Ranger School while still a Cadet at West Point so he would be able to report right away to his Platoon once he graduated. That is dedication that we recognized up front. Today is a significant day for the Allyn family. Many people do not realize what it means to be promoted to General. Today there are 11 Four Star Generals in our Army, and there are 36 in the entire Department of Defense. So this is something that we take very seriously when we choose to promote somebody to Four Star General because of the responsibility that you are given. It also represents our faith and confidence in the abilities of the Officers that we promote to Four Star General. Dan Allyn is clearly one of them.
I am also happy to be down here at Forces Command, who has led the way in training and preparing our Soldiers for deployment into harm's way now for over 12 years: the best Soldiers in the world. This is evident today as you look around by the Salute Battery led by Sergeant First Class Richard Stephens, First Lieutenant Sherrie, Captain Daniel Toven, the leader of the Ground Forces Band, and by Master Sergeant Lakita Clemintine, NCOIC of the U.S. Army Reserve Color Guard. Thank you so much for what you are doing. Let's give them a round of applause. (Applause).
As I look around at the distinguished guests, they have played a significant role here at Fort Bragg, but also for many Officers: General Lindsay, the former 18th Corp Airborne Commander. I was a young Captain at that time when he was the Corps Commander here. He helped develop me in many different ways and showed me many different ways to learn as an Officer when he was here. More importantly he became the leader of the Joint Special Forces Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command down at Tampa. He is a man who is known throughout the Army, throughout the Joint Forces, a great leader and innovator. Sir, it is great to have you here today.
General Buck Kernan, who had to put up with me as Battalion Commander a long time ago. His wife Mary Ann also of the 18th Airborne Corps, Commanding General and Commander Joint Forces Command, leading our Joint Forces for many years. General Dan McNeil, who command Forces Command, but also the Commander of our NATO and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. All three men are proven combat leaders and true leaders. It is such an honor that you are here today to support this ceremony. Burk Garrett and his wife Kim are here. Burk, thank you for being here and for the leadership you have shown leading Forces Command for these last several months. Jeff Talley, thank you for your great leadership of our Army Reserve, and thank you so much for being here today. Mike Ferriter, who has the easy job of running our Installation Management Command, and his great wife Margie. They do so much for all of our great Soldiers and families around the Army. It is also great to see Joe Votel here. Usually when I come here he is not here. So Joe it is absolutely great to see you. Thank you for your tremendous leadership. Charlie Cleveland is here. Thank you for your leadership in U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
I would be remiss if I did not recognize my battle buddy, Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler, who continues to help me as we continue to shape and mold the Army as we go to the future. Command Sergeant Major Bohn, I want to recognize you for your leadership here in Forces Command. He is getting ready to leave to take over AFRICOM as the senior enlisted advisor to the Commander of AFRICOM. There is no better Soldier to do that. I want to thank you for the great contributions you made to Forces Command while you are here. Thank you very much Sergeant Major. I truly, truly appreciate it. I want to thank Tony Chavonne, the great mayor of Fayetteville. I am so glad you could be here. Tommy Bolton, the civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army. The Honorable John Szoka a member of Congress. Thank you, sir for being here. Many other distinguished guests: the honorable Chris Rey, Mayor of Spring Lake. Thank you for being here as well.
It says a lot about the community out here supporting us today. Thank you for being here. We often talk about the strength of our Soldiers is our families. So we cannot do this without the steadfast support of our families. This is especially true with the Allyn and Wingrove families. I am honored to welcome them all here. You heard them announced earlier. I will not go into too much detail, but I want to specifically thank Debbie, Dan's better half for over 25 years. This is probably one of the few times a blind date ended up so well. Usually you hear horror stories, but it looks like you did well Dan. It does not surprise me that you had to get a blind date. (Laughter). Danielle it is great having you here. She is a rising sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill. General McNeil and I will say that is okay. We are both NC State graduates, so we will not hold that against you. We are happy you could be down here. Thank you for being here. I am told that Josh, who is not here, is finishing up his plebe year at West Point. He is looking on, so Josh, if you are, congratulations to you. I understand you are headed to Airborne School. As you can see this is deep to the Allyn family.
I do want to recognize Dan's mother, Jane, who traveled here from Maine. Ma'am thank you for being here. His brother, Rob and Katie traveled from Rhode Island. His nephew Nick, is getting ready to head to the 10th Mountain Division. Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Donald Windgrove, his father in law. Sergeant Major Windgrove is a Vietnam Veteran who participated in the Sun-Te raid. Sergeant Major, it is great to have you here, as well as your wife Shirley. Dee Allyn Packer, his cousin Brian, Debbie's cousins and Debbie's Aunt, it is great to have you all here.
I want to take a quick moment to recognize LT. General Burk Garret and his wife Kim. He has been the Acting Forces Command Commander for the past few months. These have been some tumultuous months with the budget issues we have had to work through. Burk has been there representing Forces Command, doing an incredible job. He has helped us to work through some of these difficult times we are in. Burk I want to thank you and thank Kim for all you do to lead this organization. You are such a great benefit to this great organization. You stepped up, not surprisingly. So thank you so much. Please give them a round of applause. (Applause).
Since World War II, FORSCOM has been at the forefront of ensuring our Soldiers, leaders and units were ready when needed. Today that responsibility involves the training, equipping and readiness of more than 270,000 Active Component Soldiers, 350,000 Army National Guard, and over 200,000 Reserve Soldiers. Today we are at a critical junction in our nation's history. We are experiencing a time of fiscal constraints, worldwide uncertainty, and the continuous evolution of warfare. This is all occurring simultaneously as we wind down from over 12 years of conflict. Forces Command, and Dan Allyn as its leader, will play an important role in guiding our future Force as we implement new readiness concepts, new doctrine, but the same requirement to ensure our Forces are ready to deploy at a moment's notice. These chAllynges are significant. It will require an experienced and innovative leader who must be both directive and collaborative at the same time, who will help us rebalance all our components as we posture our Army to be successful for the future.
I am totally confident that Dan Allyn is that leader. Dan Allyn has commanded in combat nearly every formation of our Army, including light Airborne, mechanized, ranger, and combined and joint formations. He has worked closely with our U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard throughout his career. Dan led 3rd Brigade and 3rd Infantry Division during the initial assault of Forces into Iraq in 2004 and 2003. He served as the Deputy Commanding General of 18th Airborne Corp in 2010 as part of Operation Unified Response, helping the joint interagency effort after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. He also served in Iraq as the Deputy Commanding General of 18th Airborne Corp in 2008 and 2009. In Afghanistan, Dan Allyn led the 1st Cavalry Division as it assumed the duties of Joint Task Force One and Regional Command East, leading more than 30,000 coalition forces from 13 nations. Most recently he has led the 18th Airborne Corp here at Fort Bragg.
During his command, the Corp deployed over 50,000 Soldiers from over 13 units. These deployments supported operations in Six Combatant Commands. Dan was also at the spirit of reinvigorating our joint forcible entry abilities, along with Mick Nicholson of the 82nd Airborne. He has helped the Combatant Commanders integrate joint forces capabilities into their planning process and incorporated global reaction force programs into the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs' exercise program. All of these experiences position him very well to lead FORSCOM and to ensure our multi-component readiness, implement regionally aligned Forces and adjust the Army Force Generation Model to fit our new paradigm.
Dan, your global operational experience, understanding our Army capabilities, and your willingness to implement new concepts to improve efficiencies and effectiveness, while never forgetting the needs of our Soldiers and families, will serve you well as you help lead this great Army into the future. You have clearly demonstrated leadership to lead at the Four Star level. We are depending on you to lead this important Command into the future.
He could not do that without the great help of his wife, Debbie. I want to thank you for your lifetime of support and dedication to our Army. You have been steadfast in your support of our Soldiers and their families in every duty station wherever you might live. Already part of the Fort Bragg community, I know you will continue to help this community, but you will expand across all of Forces Command and all of the different components including U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard. She has done this all and raised two amazing children, as I pointed out earlier. Like most of us, Dan was often deployed in demanding jobs. She was able to balance raising a family while also supporting her husband and also supporting the young Soldiers and families that continue to volunteer in this great Army. So thank you Debbie for all you have done and you will continue to do for our Soldiers. Please, let's give her a round of applause. (Applause).
I would like to close today by talking about the most important ingredient to our success, which is the American Soldier. As I stand here today, the Army has nearly 80,000 Soldiers deployed, including almost 60,000 in Afghanistan. We have thousands of Soldiers in Kuwait, Qatar, the horn of Africa, Kosovo and the Sinai. We have an additional 91,000 forward stationed overseas in places like Korea, Japan, the Middle East and Europe. Since 2001 these great young men and women have earned over 15,000 Medals of Valor, including seven Medals of Honor, 27 Distinguished Services Crosses, and 692 Silver Stars. These numbers continue to grow every day. These Soldiers are some of the bravest and yet most humble individuals I have ever met. They usually tell me that they were just doing their job. They are living up to the professional standards dedicating themselves to the service of this great country with their willingness to sacrifice for their fellow Soldiers. Their courage and commitment continues to be the source of inspiration. It is our solemn responsibility to ensure they are prepared, trained, ready and well-led whenever our nation might call on them in order to continue to protect this great country of ours. I want to thank everyone for being here today. I want to thank all the great Soldiers here, all the great family members, and all the great leaders that we have assembled here today. It is up to us to lead this Army into the future. I know you are all up to the task. The strength of our Nation is our Army. The strength or our Army is our Soldiers. The strength of our Soldiers is our families. That is what makes us Army Strong.
Thank you very much.