CAMP RED CLOUD -- It was on a sunny June morning two years ago that I stood on the parade ground here and under blue skies assumed command of U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I.
I now move to a new assignment but as I do I'd like to share a few thoughts with you, Area I's Soldiers, Airmen, civilians and family members.
My successor, Col. Brandon D. Newton, assumes leadership of a garrison that takes pride in being at "The tip of the spear."
By that we mean that our region is the one closest to the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides Korea. It's our forward-most garrison that manages the camps, training ranges and other sites in this region.
And it is our garrison whose paramount mission is to support the warfighters of the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division.
We keep the lights on, the water running, the roads repaired. We do a great many other things -- provide gyms, swimming pools, recreational trips -- that contribute to their resilience, and help keep them "Ready to Fight Tonight."
As I've reminded you during these two years, Area I is in a gradual but sure transition. It'll eventually see the bulk of forces leave here for a new home south of Seoul.
In the run-up to those events, important changes have already occurred, and will gain pace this summer.
Command Sponsorship's been phased out; there are far fewer families here. The Casey Elementary School closed this month. Child, Youth and School Services closes in days. The combat brigades that now serve nine-month rotations with the division are well-rehearsed in the steps such rotations entail.
Meanwhile, our mission continues. Besides the members of our garrison, the Area I community includes a diverse array of units and agencies with whom we work closely. I think of them as an extension of our garrison: AAFES, DeCA, DoDEA, USO, Red Cross, the Logistics Readiness Center-Red Cloud, among others.
That team includes both U.S. and of course our many Korean employees. Their tasks are varied. They repair roads and cut grass, keep the books and do personnel paperwork, staff our firehouses, serve as nurses, environmental experts, engineers.
It's those who taught school at Camp Casey, ran programs for children, it's the lifeguard at the pool, the bagger at the commissary.
So as you go about our garrison -- or any other garrison -- and see them, take a moment to thank them for the role they play in making things work in Area I.
In my two years here I've accumulated many reasons to be proud of your skill, hard work, and passion for the mission. I am proud to have been your commander.
And as I depart Korea, I extend my warmest good wishes for each of you who are members of this community. And, finally, I do indeed thank you for the honorable work you do here, every day, on what is, still, "The tip of the spear."