By Mike StrasserJuly 17, 2013
U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY AT WEST POINT, N.Y. (July 17, 2013) -- Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. became the 59th superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy during a change-of-command ceremony at the school, July 17, 2013.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno presided over the ceremony, where Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon Jr., the 58th superintendent, relinquished command.
"Today, we celebrate the legacy of West Point as we pass the colors between the 58th and 59th superintendents of this great academy," Odierno said.
Upon welcoming Caslen and his family's return to West Point, Odierno described the new superintendent as a seasoned and experienced leader.
"Lieutenant General Bob Caslen possesses all the right credentials to lead West Point," Odierno said. "He possesses the right balance of experience here at the academy with an incredible operational résumé."
Caslen, a USMA Class of 1975 graduate, arrived at West Point having served as the Chief of the Office of Security Cooperation, Iraq. He also commanded the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and was the commanding general of the Multi-National Division-North, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"His operational background is as diverse as it is impressive," Odierno said. "He has commanded at all levels in the Army with civil and joint assignments."
His previous stints at the academy included serving as a company tactical officer and as the 70th commandant of the Corps of Cadets, from 2006-08, before departing his alma mater to take command of the 25th Infantry Division, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
He has the distinction of being only the second general officer to hold the position of both commandant and superintendent at West Point. Caslen said upon graduating from the academy he never imagined either happening.
"Truthfully, when I left, I thought I was going to do my five years and leave," Caslen said. "What happened was when I got into the Army I fell in love with the Army, and dealing with Soldiers and very tough situations and problems, and then working your way through those problems. The Army is a great career. It's a lifetime of service."
The superintendent of West Point is responsible for many things, chief among them the care and education of future Army officers. But to the delight of the audience in attendance at the ceremony, Odierno took the opportunity to lay yet another responsibility at Caslen's feet: Ensuring Army Football beats Navy, Dec. 14.
Caslen accepted the task whole-heartedly.
"Among many other goals, I am also committed to beating Navy," Caslen said. "Don't get me wrong, we have learned over these last 11-plus years how effective, collegiate and lethal our joint teams are, but on that one day, on those fields of friendly strife, regardless of what sport it is, but especially football, of course, we'll put all that aside and put the Navy where they belong."
Caslen said it is a privilege to take command of the academy and he recognizes the challenges ahead.
"I am well aware of the great gift that has been given to me today," he said. "Command is always a privilege. Command in time of war and in the transition of a post-war Army is a distinct honor. I recognize the challenges, whether fiscal, social or ensuring the dignity and respect of all cadets and Soldiers."
Caslen said the values of the academy, the Army and the nation will remain the focus of all cadet development.
"The complexities of today's security environment are like none other and it will take the most progressive intellectual, military, athletic and character leader development programs to produce the exemplary leaders our nation needs, leaders who can adapt with agility and creativity, who build disciplined and winning teams and who can effectively operate, and actually thrive, within these complex security environments today," Caslen said.
Odierno thanked Huntoon for his 40 years of service to the Army. During his tenure at the academy, the number of Soldiers entering West Point tripled and Huntoon oversaw the establishment of the West Point Cyber Research Center, while increasing research opportunities for cadets and faculty through its centers of excellence.
"Dave also oversaw the largest cadet exchange expansion in the academy's history, including exchanges with Russian and Indian military academies," Odierno said. "Dave, your dedication for preparing our sons and daughters to lead in the future will be your legacy."