ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 16, 2013) -- In an oppressive morning heat, Maj. Gen. Genaro J. Dellarocco relinquished command of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command to Maj. Gen. Peter D. Utley at the ATEC Headquarters here July 16. Dellarocco commanded ATEC for nearly three years.

Surrounded by colleagues, community leaders, friends and family, Dellarocco passed a unit flag for the last time. He will retire this month after 35 years of service. Utley takes command following three years as the deputy chief of staff, operations and training, at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis, Va.

Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell presided over the ceremony. In line with tradition, Campbell passed the ATEC colors from Dellarocco to Utley. With his position as commanding general established, Utley passed the flag to Command Sgt. Maj. Carlton Handy, ATEC's top enlisted Soldier, for safekeeping.

Campbell, who is no stranger to the work of the ATEC team, first commended the workforce on its success in supporting the national military strategy.

"You truly are the Army's experts in the test and evaluation of Soldier equipment," he said. Campbell noted that he has firsthand experience of the great work ATEC and the FOA teams, particularly while serving as commander of Regional Command-East in Afghanistan. "You're truly saving lives and making a difference with all our Soldiers."

He then turned the attention on Dellarocco. In an award ceremony before the change of command where Dellarocco received the Distinguished Service Medal, Campbell polled the workforce on words to describe Dellarocco. The audience responded with numerous words of praise for their parting leader.

"Words like integrity, leader, supporter and character show the passion, and the love, in the audience here," he said. "We got it right with Gino. He took this on with vigor and discipline."

Campbell also noted that Dellarocco took on the challenge of creating a leaner organization resulting in approximately $900 million in cost savings and avoidance for the command and nearly $98 million in cost savings and avoidance during Network Integration Evaluations. NIEs are a series of semi-annual, Soldier-led evaluations designed to further integrate and rapidly progress the Army's tactical network.

"Gino's aggressive Lean Six Sigma program has created a culture of efficiency that has flattened the organization, eliminated redundancies, and provided better integration across the entire command," he said.

Campbell then welcomed Utley as the new commander of ATEC. "The Army's real asset is our bench strength," he said. "Ingoing and outgoing commanders are cut from same cloth, and we are fortunate to have Pete Utley assume command of ATEC."

Utley comes to ATEC from the other side of the pendulum, said Campbell. "He brings vast expertise from the training and doctrine side of the Army and will provide the Soldier's perspective to the command to take Gino's vision to the next level."

He added that Utley's multiple tours and Joint assignments are the correct mix to keep testing above par. "He's the right officer at the right time, and I'm excited that he's joining this headquarters."

In his remarks, Dellarocco thanked his many military and civilian colleagues, community leaders, staff and workforce. But perhaps in his most poignant moment, he shared a personal account of how ATEC helps save Soldiers' lives.

In the account, he recalled when his sister called him after her son had experienced a firefight in Afghanistan. His nephew, who had recently joined the Army and was serving his first tour in Afghanistan, had not only survived the firefight, but also survived the improvised explosive device that detonated under his vehicle.

"He was in a firefight and took it to the enemy and survived; they hit an IED and survived," he said, choking up. "Two more times their vehicle hit IEDs and he survived them and he came home.

"His weapon, sappy plate [body armor] and vehicle were all tested at ATEC. He came home because of you guys -- you guys provided him with the means to survive and take it to the enemy."

Dellarocco reminded the audience that his nephew wasn't the only life saved, but because of the testing and evaluation at ATEC of Soldier systems, this story has been "repeated thousands of times over the last decade."

In closing, Dellarocco welcomed Utley to ATEC and reminded the workforce that there's still work to be done.

"You're getting a new commander -- Pete Utley -- and from my foxhole I think the transformation is about to begin," he said. "We set a good stage for him, and the budget provides a great opportunity to reshape the formation to even better than we are today."

Maintaining tradition, Utley kept his remarks brief. He thanked the audience for the warm welcome and said it was an "honor and privilege to be selected by Army leadership to command this very unique unit."

Utley had never been to Aberdeen Proving Ground; however, as an Armor officer, he knew the legacy of APG in testing Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles -- vehicles imperative to the Armor units in which he served.

Utley offered three imperatives to the ATEC workforce on which he will command: mission first, people always, and the Army Profession.

"Our main effort must be accomplishment of the mission; and we will use the mission command philosophy to drive the conduct of the mission but, most importantly, to spur innovation," he said.

He continued to outline the foundation of the three imperatives noting the care of the workforce and the Army Profession will help guide ATEC as it moves forward.

"Our most precious resource is our Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and contractors, and we cannot accomplish the mission without them," he said. "Our primary responsibility is to lead and to care for them. We have a professional responsibility to coach, teach and mentor our subordinates."

He also spoke about the value of the Army Profession. "It is imperative that as professionals we serve as standard bearers and keepers of the flame for the Army Profession," he said. "We demonstrate our commitment to our professions through our deeds, and we must acknowledge it is built on a legal, moral foundation guided by the Army values."

To close, Utley encouraged the workforce and acknowledged that through teamwork the command will continue to provide a great service to the Army.

"Focusing on these three imperatives underpinned by teamwork will enable the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command to be of significant value to our Army," he said. "As we move forward, there will be challenges on the horizon, but I know we will prevail because of the professional members of the ATEC team."