FORT KNOX, Kentucky -- The U.S. Army Cadet Command (USACC) hosted a change of responsibility for its senior enlisted leader in a formal ceremony at Cadet Park, here, July 25.

Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs, commander, USACC and Fort Knox, presided over the ceremony that transferred responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Howard to Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Arnold.

After the ceremonial transfer of unit colors that symbolizes the responsibility the commander places on the command sergeant major, Combs addressed the audience.

"This is the hardest ceremony for any commander to preside over, because as we passed that flag, our great unit colors and that responsibility from one great NCO to another, it also means that I just lost a battle buddy."

She said that as she was trying to summarize Howard's contributions to Cadet Command for the last two years, she referred to some of her old ROTC notes from college that described what's expected of a sergeant major. The notes referred to a description written by a British officer in 1776.

"The choice of a sergeant major must never be influenced by any other consideration than that of real merit. Besides being a complete sergeant in every respect, he ought to be sensible and sedate. He should be a perfect master of every branch in the interior management and discipline of a regiment," Combs said.

"He must also have a certain degree of coolness to give instructions and must be the standard bearer of morals, character, and tactical and technical expertise, with his head on a swivel, as the eyes and ears of the commander, providing sage wisdom and advice as a trusted advisor, and loyal supporter of the commander.

"In other words, what I would call my true teammate," Combs said. Command Sgt. Maj. Howard, you've fulfilled each one of these qualities."

From Sept. 2012 to July 2014, Howard has served as the command sergeant major for Cadet Command and Fort Knox since September 2012. Under Howard's leadership, USACC "…experienced the most sweeping changes in the command's 28-year history," according to Howard's Legion of Merit narrative.

During Howard's tenure, the command supported the largest enrollment in more than 20 years including more than 36,000 Senior Army ROTC Cadets and 314,000 Junior ROTC students.

His work with community leaders and educators at the local, strategic and operational level has garnered the command many key and influential people who are avid supporters and openly support the "goodness" of ROTC and JROTC.

Howard also served as the Fort Knox command sergeant major. Working with the leadership at Fort Knox, Howard helped the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and 3rd Regiment, 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team with their deployments.

After Combs finished her remarks, she introduced Howard, who then stepped to the podium.

Howard said that he needed to accomplish two things in his remarks.

"First, we must welcome Command Sgt. Maj. Arnold and his family to Cadet Command and Fort Knox. And second, I would like to say thanks to all that worked so hard every day to make Cadet Command and Fort Knox a great place to work."

Howard said that Arnold is the best command sergeant major for the job. "He is relevant, ready and understands the Army and where the Army is going. And most importantly, he knows how to take care of Soldiers.

Before Arnold addressed the crowd, excused himself, saying that he had to do something before speaking. He then stepped away from the podium and let out a loud yell of joy, adding he was excited to be at Cadet Command and Fort Knox.

He said that before placing the Cadet Command patch on his uniform, he looked "at that that patch, really, really hard for the first time," and noticed Cadet Command's motto: Leadership Excellence.

"I want everyone to know that I take that very serious, and it is an honor to be here at Cadet Command and Fort Knox."

Before arriving at Fort Knox, Arnold served as the 12th Regimental Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army Chemical, Biological Radiological and Nuclear School, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.