ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- After an absence of a little over a year, Maj. Gen. Kevin O'Connell has returned to Rock Island Arsenal with another star on his shoulder and a new assignment: Leading a global organization responsible for sustaining Army and joint forces in support of combatant commanders.
As a brigadier general, O'Connell served as commanding general of the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command from June 2012 through July 2013. On Aug. 21, O'Connell took command of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command which, like JMC, is headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal.
Between his assignments at the Arsenal, O'Connell served as deputy chief of staff for Logistics (G-4) for the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.
The Maryland native was commissioned as an officer in the Quartermaster Corps in 1982 following his graduation from High Point College in North Carolina. He has held numerous logistics and leadership positions during his career, which includes deployments to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Bosnia during Operation Joint Endeavor.
O'Connell took command of ASC from Maj. Gen. John Wharton, who had served as commanding general since September 2012. During the change of command ceremony, it was announced that Wharton will move on to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., to serve as commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
Gen. Dennis Via, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, presided at the ceremony. In his remarks, Via praised Wharton for his leadership of ASC.
"General Wharton was in charge of a global organization with an operating budget of about $12 billion," Via said. "His accomplishments over the past two years were simply remarkable, and it's impossible for me to list all of them."
Among the accomplishments cited by Via were the ongoing retrograde of weapons and equipment from Afghanistan; support to the U.S. State Department; improvements in the Army Prepositioned Stocks program; and the successful transfer of 73 Directorates of Logistics to ASC, and their transition to Logistics Readiness Centers.
"General Wharton is a big thinker," Via said, "and he inspired or authored several white papers that have influenced the way the Army looks at logistics."
Via remarked that O'Connell's experience as chief of logistics for FORSCOM would serve him well in his new assignment as ASC's commanding general.
"During his brief time at FORSCOM, Kevin led efforts that substantially improved equipment readiness," Via said.
"General O'Connell is a Soldier's Soldier who knows what our warfighters need and who knows how to lead complex global organizations," Via said. "I'm confident that he'll build on General Wharton's record of success at ASC."
Wharton began his remarks by stating that it had been an honor and a privilege to serve at ASC and Rock Island Arsenal, which he called the "Home of U.S. Army Logistics."
"I have a passion for what we do here at ASC," Wharton said. "We are the executing arm of AMC, and we have a presence at every post, camp and station around the globe. The sun never sets on the Army Sustainment Command."
Wharton then bid an emotional farewell to the Arsenal and to the two-state Quad Cities community which hosts the installation.
"This truly is the best community I've served in during my 33 years in the Army," he said. "You've given my family and me more than we've given you, and I greatly appreciate that.
"Rock Island Arsenal has been a center of logistics excellence for more than 150 years," Wharton said. "I believe the Arsenal is well-postured for the future, and I'm very proud of the enduring relationship between the Arsenal and the Quad Cities, and of the community engagements that took place during my time here."
Wharton closed by thanking Via for his leadership and by praising O'Connell for his qualifications to lead ASC.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and I was proud to be your commanding general," Wharton said. "Remember, we are your Army, and we're here for each and every one of you."
In his first speech as ASC's commanding general, O'Connell remarked that it was great to be back in the Quad Cities but admitted that he was glad he missed one of the coldest winters the area had experienced in decades.
"This community is truly committed to our military and their families," he said, "and I hope that I can help build on and strengthen this great relationship."
O'Connell said that his top five priorities as commanding general would be as follows: Support deployed forces; provide globally responsive readiness; build and empower leaders; take care of people and their families; and strengthen the command climate.
"ASC will be vigilant, well-trained, responsive, and efficiently resourced," he said. "We will remain ready for any contingency."