By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneJuly 22, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The Army Contracting Command is now being led by a two-star general who doesn't mind a "bit of polishing" every now and then.
Maj. Gen. Ted Harrison, whose promotion ceremony July 3 heralded in a very special Fourth of July weekend for his family and friends, compared himself to a "diamond in the rough" that has been polished by family, friends and teammates during his 33 years as an Army officer.
Saying he has been "polished" over the years by both a polishing cloth and a wiry brush, Harrison's family, friends, mentors and superiors, and fellow Soldiers have made him a "better teammate, better boss and better officer."
The life lessons taught him while in the Army have built on a foundation first laid by his parents, who taught him about integrity, Christian values, and the value of hard work and a loving home, and who gave him both "roots and wings."
Harrison assumed command of the Army Contracting Command -- a two-star position within the Army -- as a brigadier general in October. His promotion to major general received Senate confirmation June 25 as part of the Army's Fiscal Year 2014 Major General, Army Competitive Category, Promotion Selection List.
His promotion ceremony was attended by his wife of 30 years, Wendy; their son Spc. Ian Harrison, who is training to be a Special Forces Soldier at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and their daughter Maria, an incoming freshman at Huntsville High School. Also in attendance was Harrison's mother Julie, niece Emma and brother Rev. Lawrence Harrison, who gave the invocation, and other family members, friends and fellow Soldiers along with Redstone Arsenal and community leaders. Harrison's other two sons, Andrew and Matthew, were unable to attend.
"He wouldn't be where he is today without you," said presiding officer Gen. Dennis Via, commander of the Army Materiel Command, to which the Army Contracting Command is a subordinate command.
Of the 82,000 officers in today's Army, only 116 are serving at the rank of major general. The Army only selected 31 officers this year for promotion to major general, Via said.
"I can't think of a more qualified leader for promotion," he said.
The general gave an overview of Harrison's career, starting with his beginnings raised in a family that has a tradition for military service. Harrison's father, now deceased, served in the Air Force, and his grandfather was a retired lieutenant colonel chaplain who served in the Army during World War II and in the Air Force.
"His role model was his father," Via said. "He taught him accountability, discipline, the value of hard work and that the easy way is not often the best way. He carried his father's advice with him to Virginia Tech (as the third generation of his family to attend there), where he learned the basics of leadership."
At Virginia Tech, Harrison was an ROTC cadet who performed with the regimental band. He was a distinguished military graduate who was branched to air defense artillery.
Early in his career, Harrison served as a Hawk platoon leader in Korea, and as a Vulcan and Stinger platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg. After completing Rotary Wing Flight Training, he served as an Aero Scout platoon leader, Flight Operations officer and Air Cavalry troop commander with the 4th Squadron, 12th U.S. Cavalry, Fort Hood, Texas.
Harrison then began an acquisition career that included command assignments with the Lima Army Tank Plant and Defense Contract Management Agency, Lima, Ohio; the 410th Contracting Support Brigade, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and the Expeditionary Contracting Command at Redstone. He has also served as chief of staff of the Joint Contracting Command (Iraq/Afghanistan); director of Procurement Operations for Iraq and Afghanistan; and director of the National Contracting Organization, Corps of Engineers.
As commander of the Army Contracting Command, Harrison oversees a $450 million annual budget, and 7,000 civilian, contractor and Soldier employees throughout the world. The command manages 246,000 contractual actions annually and directs $1 out of every $6 spent on government contracts.
Recalling the words of the oath taken at the ceremony, Harrison said, "I accept this position freely, and I accept it with a great deal of humility, gratitude and also confidence."
Harrison said his experiences with the Army have been "really incredible" and that as an ROTC cadet at Virginia Tech he "had very little inkling of how a career in the U.S. military would impact my life."
A combination of good advice from his father; great Army assignments; great Soldiers, civilians and bosses; and a "good measure of luck" helped Harrison achieve success in the Army. He thanked his family, his church (Cove Church), the noncommissioned officers he has served with, the Army at large and several others who have supported him in his career.
"I am confident I have the guidance and tools necessary to take ACC to new heights" in support of Soldiers and the nation, Harrison said.
Looking to the leadership in attendance at the promotion ceremony, Harrison said, "If I need more polishing, I know you'll be there. … This is a team of teams. I am so proud to be a Soldier in the U.S. Army."