By USASOC Public AffairsJuly 2, 2015
FORT BRAGG, N.C. − Soldiers from the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) said farewell to Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland and welcomed Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo during a change of command ceremony at Meadows Field, July 1, 2015.
Cleveland relinquished command of USASOC to Tovo after nearly three years as the commanding general of the prestigious unit.
Tovo is assuming commanding after completing his most recent assignment as the military deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command in Miami, Fla.
Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commanding general, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), officiated the ceremony and passed the unit colors from Cleveland to Tovo, representing the transfer of authority. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, U.S. Army Chief of Staff was a distinguished guest in attendance.
"The passing of the colors from one commander to another is largely symbolic but it is richly traditional and important, representing the passing of authority and the responsibility of the command. It is a visual representation of transitioning leadership and the continuity of this great organization," said Votel.
While speaking to the audience, Votel also spoke words of praise of Cleveland's success.
"[Cleveland] subsequently refocused Army Special Operations with ARSOF 2022, laying out the principles, the intellectual underpinnings and the resource strategy to enable the Army SOF to thrive in an environment characterized by complexity, uncertainty and a form of hybrid warfare that we have not previously experienced," said Votel. "Though met at first with some resistance, [Cleveland] stayed the course, educating others on its purpose and importance until it was understood by the Army, USSOCOM, our GCCs [Geographic Combatant Commanders], and our oversight committees; his persistence and vision has made unconventional warfare a part of our national security lexicon."
Cleveland has had numerous accomplishments while in charge of USASOC. Of those, one of his most notable is ARSOF 2022 -- the blueprint for ARSOF's success in future operations.
"Nearly three years ago, USASOC embarked on the journey to fundamentally change the way our nation viewed its Special Operations Forces. At the time, our redirect was divisive, our processes were unbalanced and our standing in the Army, though high, was fragile and uneven, built on personalities and shared respect born of combat, but quickly receding as the press war subsided," said Cleveland, addressing Gen. Odierno and reflecting on his assumed responsibilities. "Your challenge to me, Sir, was to make sure that we don't let that pass."
"I couldn't be prouder of what this magnificent team of professionals, and our friends throughout the Army, have accomplished in this short period. In our blueprint for change, ARSOF 2022 and part two, we outlined our planned to pay a hefty sequestration bill -- one that ultimately led to the unpopular loss of 20-25 percent our or Special Forces and Ranger warfighting capacity, said Cleveland. "In the end we redesigned ourselves to be better at our respective Special Warfare and Surgical Strike missions, to begin learning how the two should work in concert with one another as well was with our Conventional Force."
Cleveland has stated in the past that ARSOF 2022 describes precept and imperatives that will enable ARSOF to thrive in a future operating environment that is characterized by uncertainty. He also said ARSOF 2022 has clarified the narrative for ARSOF by providing direction to the force and establishing a process for future force development that leads to better support of joint force commanders. ARSOF 2022 set in motion a number of changes primarily focused on the tactical aspects of special operations and became the impetus behind the new focus on SOF operational art.
As the longest serving "Green Beret" on active duty, Cleveland, who will be retiring later this year, also took time to thank everyone who made an impact on him during his illustrious 37 year career.
"To the many friends across my career and this country, it has been my honor to serve with you. My career may have culminated here, but many of you are responsible for my continued success," said Cleveland, speaking to the large audience of family, friends and distinguished guests.
"Freedom isn't free, and we have the great fortune to have those who are willing to step forward and ready to pay the price, we as a nation should never take that for granted. Indeed our biggest security threats could be from within; not lone wolf terrorists or sleeper cells, but from a divisiveness that erodes our will, our belief in ourselves and what America stands for," said Cleveland.
In his closing remarks Cleveland added, "We are the good guys. Everywhere we go we are the good guys. We stand for something, something good, the individual freedom, liberty and rights given to us by our creator that having traveled the world I can honestly say exists nowhere else in the way it does here in this great land. It's what makes us strong."
Following Cleveland, Tovo said he was honored and humbled for the opportunity to become the twelfth commanding general in USASOC's storied history and assured Gen. Odierno and Gen. Votel, that he will do everything he can to meet expectations for the USASOC Soldiers, the U.S. Army and, most importantly, for the Nation as the senior leader of USASOC.
"In my mind USASOC must do four things well: we must sustain today's fight; we must sustain today's force; we must prepare for the future; and, most importantly, we must honor, preserve and build upon the tremendous legacy of our predecessors," Tovo said.
"It requires that we embody quiet professionals, that we maintain the highest level of standards and discipline in everything that we do, and that, when call upon by this nation -- and we will be called upon -- that our deeds live up to this organization's creed: Sine Pari, without equal."