REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Materiel Command hosted a change of responsibility for its senior enlisted leader in a formal ceremony at the Bob Jones Auditorium at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12.

Gen. Dennis L. Via, AMC commanding general, presided over the ceremony that transfered responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald T. Riling to Command Sgt. Maj. James K. Sims.

"This morning's ceremony marks a significant milestone in both of these noncommissioned officers' lives and their families and in the history of the Army Materiel Command," Via said.

Via also said that the role of the command sergeant major goes beyond being a trusted advisor to the commanding general.

"The command sergeant major is a barometer for the morale and strength of the command's Soldiers and civilians. They are truly the backbone of the command structure," Via said. "I've been very fortunate during the past 16 months to have Command Sergeant Major Ronald T. Riling as my battle buddy."

Riling has served as a command sergeant major for 14 years of his 31-year Army career and Via is the third four-star general with whom he has served as the senior enlisted advisor. Riling is a recipient of the Silver Star Medal, the third highest combat medal a Soldier can receive. His military awards also include the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal.

"Riling's leadership and his reputation helped guide AMC and the Army though a very challenging retrograde mission in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, while simultaneously supporting combat operations," Via said. "He visited Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians in 20 states and 15 countries so he could keep his finger on the pulse of AMC's vast organization and to ensure that our command's personnel had what they needed."

Overall, the Rilings made a significant difference in the mission and families of AMC and that difference will be felt for many years to come, said Via.

Riling said he feels good about formally retiring in January, and that he will stay in the Huntsville-Madison County area.

"It's a bitter sweet moment, but I'm going to continue to support the Army in my civilian career. I'm going to miss the Soldiers, miss the families, going to work everyday, doing [physical training], and being around all the great Soldiers and leaders I've served with for these past 31 years," Riling said. "I hope the AMC command will continue to push forward and do the great things they do for the Army and our nation because it really is about sustaining the Soldier on the battlefield and taking care of our warfighters and that's what AMC does."

Riling thanked the crowd of supporters that included representation from several Redstone Arsenal organizations.

"It's impossible for me to achieve any success without any of you," he said. "I personally want to thank you all for doing your best on a daily basis. Trust me, your hard work and accomplishments never go unnoticed."

But Riling stressed that the change of responsibility ceremony really should focus on the incoming command sergeant major, Sims, who comes from Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Va. Sims also has more than 30 years of service to the Army.

We are gaining a very experienced command sergeant major, one that has served as a paratrooper for 19 years and four deployments, Via said.

"Sims is exceptionally qualified to assume duties as command sergeant major of the Army Materiel Command and I know he will take great care of the Soldiers, civilians and families of our command and help lead them to even greater success in the future." Via said.

Sims said he was grateful, humbled and excited about his new position.

"Joining the AMC staff and Team Redstone is an absolute privilege. My selection to serve as General Via's senior enlisted advisor is the highlight of my career thus far. Executing his vision is my number one priority."

Sims said he looks forward to circulating throughout the AMC footprint in order to talk to Soldiers and leaders about their operational needs.

"There is no better place to look for materiel solutions than the front lines," he said.