FORT KNOX, Ky. (May 26, 2016) -- U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox welcomed a new commanding general as Maj. Gen. Christopher Hughes took command from Maj. Gen. Peggy Combs during a change of command ceremony on Brooks Field May 25.
Hughes comes to Fort Knox from Fort Shafter, Hawaii, where he most recently served as the Chief of Staff for United States Army Pacific Command. Combs is heading to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., where she will serve as the Chief of Staff, United States Northern Command.
During the ceremony, Hughes spoke of his first experience at Fort Knox.
"I stood on this field nearly 35 years ago and graduated into the Army ROTC Advanced Program. My experience here inspired me to seek a life of service to our Army and our incredible nation," he said.
He went on to share a lasting lesson he learned from an instructor during his Cadet Summer Training that helped him be successful as a leader.
"One of my drill sergeants, Drill Sergeant Montgomery, taught me that it was very important for me as a new leader to always take the time to tell my Soldiers the "why" in any given situation, no matter how hard, how difficult or unpopular," said Hughes. "He explained that if I always told my Soldiers the "why" for every task I gave them, that someday in harm's way when bullets were flying and I didn't have time to tell them the "why," they would trust me and execute my orders without hesitation.
"Some 20 years later I would find myself in the middle of the invasion of Iraq and I would learn the value of that drill sergeant's mentorship, and as a result, my Soldiers trusted my orders without hesitation and won the day," he added.
Hughes went on to charge those under his new command to continue to seek excellence and take pride in their role in developing tomorrow's leaders.
"The Soldiers and civilians of Cadet Command and Fort Knox have the unique opportunity to profoundly impact, in a clear and positive way, the lives of young men and women who seek a life of service. Whether here at Fort Knox or far from the flagpole at a host or satellite university, an inner city high school or wherever you find yourself underneath one of the yellow flags on the field, each of your have an opportunity to change the lives and develop young adults into better people," he said. "Our Cadets need, desire and want your disciplined mentorship. They deserve your absolute best in everything you can provide them. Please never forget, that what you do matters, and what you do is important."
Lt. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, Deputy Commanding General/Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, welcomed Hughes to his new position, and shared his confidence in Hughes' ability to lead Cadet Command and Fort Knox.
"Chris is a proven leader who has excelled in peace and war, and who has successfully led Soldiers at every level. He's done all of the hard jobs the Army has asked him to do and done them well," said Mangum. "His selection for this command is a testament to his abilities and to our Army's great trust and confidence in the job he will do polishing our nation's crown jewels -- training and educating our young men and women to lead our Army in the future.
Hughes was commissioned a regular Army second lieutenant through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program at Northwest Missouri State University in May 1983, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. Throughout his 33-year service tenure, Hughes has served in a variety of leadership and staff positions at the tactical, operational and strategic levels.
His prior assignments include service as the Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center -- Education (CAC-E) and the Deputy Commandant, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), the 4th Infantry Division, two tours with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the Joint Readiness Training Center. He has also seen service in the Pacific as a War Planner for United States Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) and with the Deployable Joint Task Force Augmentation Cell at United States Pacific Command (USPACOM).
A native of Red Oak, Iowa, Hughes' primary awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (2 OLC), Bronze Star Medal (OLC), Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Meritorious Service Medal (6 OLC), the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Joint Staff Identification Badge, Army Staff Badge and numerous foreign Airborne Wings.
He is also a published author and winner of the 2008 Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award for Excellence.