Command Sgt. Maj. Alma Zeladaparedes took command of the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Noncommissioned Officers Academy during an assumption-of-commandancy ceremony Tuesday in Lincoln Hall Auditorium.

Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, presided over the ceremony.

Upon transferring responsibility for the academy's values-based training courses for enlisted warriors and leaders of the Chemical, Engineer and Military Police regiments to Zeladaparedes, Smith said that without a doubt, the Army got it right in selecting her to join the Fort Leonard Wood team.

"Command Sergeant Major Zeladaparedes is highly experienced," Smith said.

"She enlisted in 1987 at Fort McClellan, Alabama, and started out as a team leader with the 31st Chemical Company, Fort Carson, Colorado; and as you can see she has excelled at subsequent assignments," he said.

"Command Sergeant Major Zeladaparedes has shown a pattern of initiative and innovation throughout her career."

Smith commented that while serving as a Warrior Leader Course Mobile Training Team commandant and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear sergeant major for the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, Zeladaparedes communicated the need for the 1st Inf. Div. to have their own NCO academy.

"Command Sergeant Major Zeladaparedes cares about Soldiers and Families," he said. "She cares about standards, discipline and fitness."

During her most recent assignment as installation sergeant major at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, she implemented a wellness academy in support of Tooele, Utah's, healthy community initiative.

The academy now serves to support and promote healthy lifestyles for both military and community members, Smith said.

"In order for our Army to be successful in the missions that we do, we need good noncommissioned officers -- period," he said. "We need good noncommissioned officers to serve as the connective tissue to make things happen every day."

Smith charged Zeladaparedes with the responsibility to prepare NCO warriors and leaders not just for today's mission, but for future missions, by instilling standards, discipline, fitness, customs, courtesies and traditions.

"Your task is great, sergeant major, but you are up to the task," he said.

Zeladaparedes said Sgt. Maj. Christopher Heberling, assistant NCOA comandant, did an exceptional job during the NCOA's leadership transition.

"You are all part of a very cohesive team," she said. "You cheerfully welcomed me and made me feel at home. All of you said positive things about the leadership and each other. Your attitude is a testament of your resiliency, character, commitment, loyalty and the Army profession."

Zeladaparedes concluded with words inspired by her role model, Martin Luther King Jr.

"I believe that now is the time to move forward with the wisdom of the old generation of leaders and the energy and innovation of the young leaders," she said.

"Now is the time to move forward by setting the example of outstanding leadership, honorable service and stewardship, not for our sake, but for the freedom of our Army and our nation."