By Mark Iacampo, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, HohenfelsJune 11, 2014
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Col. John G. Norris relinquished command of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at a ceremony, here, June 6.
In his two years as commander, Norris led 22 major training rotations at Hohenfels and across 28 partnered nations, impacting thousands of Soldiers.
"We work hard at JMRC and our work at Hohenfels is absolutely worth doing, and it truly matters," said Norris. "It matters strategically, never more so than today."
"What is equally important is that we have accomplished this along with our multinational partners," he added. "I am very proud of the work and the contributions of our building partner capacity campaign and how it has leveraged new access, causing and creating new opportunities, opportunities just like the combined resolve exercise series."
The recently completed "Combined Resolve II" exercise featured over 4,000 participants and included military personnel from Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Georgia, Hungary, Kosovo, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and the U.S.
"This exercise has helped redefine relevancy at JMRC, JMTC (Joint Multinational Training Command) and U.S. Army Europe during a very critical period," said Norris.
Brig. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, commanding general of JMTC, said Norris was the perfect choice to head JMRC. He reflected on Norris' career, stating that Norris had served at all ranks, from platoon to brigade and that he had led forces under fire during numerous deployments.
"It is one achievement to be a great warrior, but a completely different skill to know how to build communities and organizations and partnerships," Piatt said. "(Norris) demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to the Hohenfels community."
Norris created the Community Connector program which partnered JMRC Observer Coach Trainer (OCT) teams with local communities, providing a platform for partners to share concerns, solve problems, and discover opportunities.
"(The Community Connector) has ... a significant positive impact on our Army families and our German hosts by fostering a much more vibrant sense of community here," Piatt said.
The program's success was aptly demonstrated by the attendance of nearly a dozen mayors from the surrounding communities and Norris thanked them all for their friendship and support.
"This program is only a success because you embraced it, our teams, and our families. You have helped to make our community very much stronger," he told them.
Piatt also pointed out Sandra Norris' contributions to the HMC through the Hohenfels Community Spouses Club.
"Together with the ladies of JMRC, she built a successful organization that raised over $100,000 through the Thrift Shop, bazaars, and social events that went right back into the community to support youth programs, family readiness groups, and the schools, helping to make Hohenfels 'the great little place,'" said Piatt.
Norris' next assignment will be Command of the Joint Planning Support Element in Norfolk, Virginia.
Piatt also passed on words from Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., commanding general of U.S. Army Europe.
"John Norris is the best trainer in the U.S. Army," Piatt said, quoting Lt. Gen. Campbell.