Aug. 15, 2014 -- CSA's remarks at FORSCOM change of command

By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray OdiernoAugust 21, 2014

Good afternoon. Thank you, everybody, for turning out today. It is incredible to see so many people here. It is always a special treat for me to come down here to Fort Bragg. This is inspiring to me because of all of the great Soldiers and leaders that are here every single day representing our entire Army, whether it is our Special Operations Forces, our Conventional Forces, our support forces, our headquarters. This is the one place in the Army you get to see the total picture of who we are and what we are. So for me it is always a great pleasure to come down here and celebrate with everyone.

Today is a true day of celebration as we celebrate the extraordinary leadership of Dan Allyn, and General Mark Milley, and all of the Soldiers of Forces Command. I do realize that leaving Fort Bragg and going to the Pentagon might not have been on Dan Allyn's dream sheet, but it is a great day for us in the Army today because we are getting a great leader to be the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. Many of you might not know, but it so happens that today is the Allyn's 27th wedding anniversary. We want to congratulate both of you. Congratulations. (Applause). Of course they will celebrate their anniversary in a traditional Army way. They will jump in their car and drive to Fort McNair, and they will start unloading their housing goods so they can get ready for their next job. So this will probably be like many of the other anniversaries that you both have celebrated. Thank you both.

As I stand here today it reminds me of the strength of the American Soldier. Our Soldiers are the best in the world. That is evidenced every day as I get the chance to watch them and the many duties that they accomplish around the world. I want to thank the Army Ground Forces Band today led by Captain Kim. I appreciate everything that you all do. Master Sergeant Proctor and the Color Guard, from FORSCOM and the Army Reserves, I want to thank you. I want to thank the Salute Battery, Lieutenant John Girton. Sergeant First Class Jameson Stukes, thank you for your great leadership and what you represent and all of the great Soldiers. I want to thank all of the community members that are here to recognize the importance of this day as we change the heavy responsibility of command in Forces Command.

I want to specifically recognize General Lindsay. Sir, it is great to see you again. Thank you so much for being here as always. I want to thank General Kernan. Sir, thank you as well for being here. You represent those who trained many of us, both of you. Many of us have great responsibility because of the great leadership that you both gave us over the years. So I want to thank you, both. Thank you very much.

I want to recognize Charlie Cleveland, the US Army Special Operations Command. Charlie, thank you for everything that you do, and your wife Mary Ann. I want to thank Beth Anderson. It is great to see you. Thanks for everything that you do as you represent your husband and everything for all of our Soldiers that are currently deployed. It is always great to see you, Beth. Thank you. General Ray Thomas, Commander of Special Operations and his wife Barbara, it is always great to see you. Thank you. Congratulations. I have not had a chance to see you since you took command. We are very proud of you as well. Thank you very much.

I also want to recognize Command Sergeant Major Scott Schroeder. Command Sergeant Major, thank you for your leadership and everything that you do every day as a senior enlisted Soldier at Forces Command. I appreciate everything that you do.

We always talk about the strength of our Soldiers is our families. Our business involves our families. We cannot do what do we without the steadfast support form them. This is especially true for the Allyn and Milley families. I am honored to welcome them here today. Dan is joined by his wife Debbie and their daughter Danielle, who is a senior at the University of North Carolina and just returned from a summer in Africa. Their son Josh is a junior at West Point. He is being kept busy doing those things Cadet Officer leaders do getting ready for a new academic year. Mark is joined by his lovely wife Hollyanne and their two children, Mary, who graduated from Holy Cross and works in Washington DC for British Petroleum, and Peter, who is a senior at Georgetown. These are two great Army families who represent what is best about our families and everything they do to support their husbands and fathers. So I thank you very much. Please give them a round of applause.

Since World War II, FORSCOM has been at the forefront of ensuring our Soldiers, leaders, and units were ready when needed. Today this responsibility is no different. The training, equipping, and readiness of more than 270,000 Active Component Soldiers in partnership with over 350,000 Army National Guard and nearly 200,000 U. S. Army Reserve Soldiers is daunting. No other command in our Army influences as many Soldiers as Forces Command. It is by far the largest and most diverse command that we have in our Army. In additional to generating forces to deploy world wide, they are also responsible for family readiness within the Continental United States. The mission of this command is complex and challenging. It impacts training, readiness, and operations throughout our Army whether here or abroad while deployed. I think we all know as we stand here today we are at a critical junction in our nation's history. We are experiencing a time of fiscal constraints, worldwide uncertainty, and the continuous evolution of warfare. This is also occurring while we transition from 13 years of conflict. We are drawing down the force.

We are confronting emerging and evolving threats and Forces Command has and will play a crucial role in guarding and guiding our Army into the future, in implementing new readiness concepts, doctrine, and providing ready forces. All the challenges that we face are significant. True leaders lead dynamic change. Dan Allyn is one of those leaders. Mark Milley is another one of those leaders.

Dan Allyn has commanded FORSCOM brilliantly during the past 15 months, providing expert vision, care, and leadership, whether generating forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, where as we stand here today we have nearly 30,000 Soldiers standing in harm's way, or to the Pacific theater, to Africa, or to EUCOM. Dan's efforts to provide capability to our Combatant Commanders have been on target, on time, for every mission when needed. Dan has also realized and started to drive home the importance of the Total Force, training and building interoperability, while improving our multi-component readiness while ensuring all our forces, Active, Guard, and Reserve, become expeditionary and are able to uniquely tailor themselves to meet whatever future requirement our nation might need.

Dan is experienced in commanding at every echelon and nearly every formation in our Army to include light, Airborne, mechanized, ranger, or combined and joint formations; whether it is in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, Panama, or Grenada. These experiences position him well and give him the right background to be the 35th Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. The challenges of the Pentagon require candor, patience, teambuilding, and a thorough knowledge of the joint Army and interagency framework, which we are going to have to operate in for the future. It requires strong but balanced leadership, and it requires commitment and character. This is why Dan Allyn will flourish as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.

Debbie, I want to thank you for your lifetime of support and dedication. You have been unwavering in your support of our Soldiers and their families in every duty station where you have lived. The Fort Bragg community will greatly miss the compassion and care you have provided and all of the volunteer work you have done, whether it was with Girl Scouts, Army Family Advocacy, the Red Cross, and YMCA. You have done so much. You have done this while being a great mom and a great wife. So thank you so much.

As Dan and Debbie move to the nation's capital, FORSCOM and Fort Bragg have the privilege of welcoming Mark and Hollyanne Milley. Like Dan, Mark Milley has commanded at every echelon and brings with him a wealth of experience. Most recently Mark has served as the Commanding General, III Corps in Fort Hood, where he led Soldiers in Afghanistan as a senior operational commander. His hard work and decisive leadership exponentially improved the Afghan Army and has prepared them as they have taken over full responsibility. More recently, Mark led Fort Hood through the trials of a recent tragedy. Both him and Hollyanne united a community and brought hope and assurance to Soldiers and their families. They both provided a great example to command teams and families across our Army on how you lead during difficult times.

Hollyanne has served as a registered nurse for more than 30 years while still finding time to volunteer thousands of hours to clubs, organizations, and spousal groups. She is an incredible role model for all with her strength, kindness, and selflessness. Hollyanne, thank you so much for all that you have done and what I know you will continue to do to support this great community here at Fort Bragg.

Mark's distinguished career in the service brings him back to Fort Bragg, where he began as a Lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division in 1981. Welcome back, Mark. Our density has probably changed a little bit since then as well as the rest of Fort Bragg. After his first assignment, he deployed to Egypt and Panama, to Haiti and Bosnia, to Iraq and Afghanistan. As I said earlier he has led at all levels of command from Company to Corps. He has an acute understanding of the requirements of our Combatant Commanders, of the capabilities they need. He also understands the programs and processes that it will take to make sure our Army meets those needs. Mark is the absolute right Officer to lead this great command. I know he will help us to meet the uncertainties that we face.

Your time at FORSCOM will be both challenging and rewarding, maintaining sustainable readiness in the face of force and budget reductions. Developing an effective total force policy and supporting the Combatant Commands are just some of the challenges we face. I believe this is a time that we will reach forward. Once again people will understand the importance of this great Army of ours. I know you will ensure smart Regional Alignment of Forces operating in a Joint Interagency Intergovernmental environment, expanding the Global Land Power Network and transforming to Force 2025. I know you will take these tasks head on with great vision and energy. But most of all your great leadership will help guide our Soldiers every single day.

Mark, you have the privilege of leading the largest command of the greatest Army that the world has ever known. As you know we are incredibly fortunate to have incredible men and women in our Army. They continue to dedicate themselves to the mission and to our nation's security. It is our duty as senior leaders to ensure they are prepared, trained, and ready. We must provide them the leaders who are competent, who are committed to their mission and demonstrate the right character. Mark I know you understand this, and you will do all in your power to achieve success. Best of luck to you and Hollyanne, to the great Soldiers, Civilians and Family members of FORSCOM. Today is another great day for our Army as we take a step forward. I am blessed to be here. I am blessed to be in the presence of such great Soldiers.

The strength of our nation is our Army.

The strength of our Army is our Soldiers.

The strength of our Soldiers is our families.

That is what makes us Army Strong.

Thank you very much.