ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois -- Col. Kenneth W. Letcher became the 49th commanding officer of the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (RIA-JMTC) at a ceremony held Thursday on Rock Island Arsenal.

Letcher took command of the Army manufacturing center from Col. Donald K. Wols, who had served as commanding officer since June 2015.

Maj. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters, commanding general of the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, presided at the ceremony. In Army tradition, LeMasters passed the flag of command from Wols to Letcher to represent the formal transfer of authority and responsibility and to establish his position as commanding officer, ensuring the continuity of leadership to the Arsenal's Soldiers, Department of the Army Civilians, and community.

In his remarks, LeMasters commented on the tradition of the change of command ceremony, stating, "We're here today to recognize a very important change and tradition in our Army, it's to welcome and say goodbye."

"It's been almost exactly two years since Don Wols took over command as the 48th commander of this great organization," LeMasters said. "It's the goal of every commander or leader of an organization to come in and try to make a difference every day, and I will tell you that, Don, this organization is better from your leadership and the leadership of your team below you, and I thank you for that. Your personal involvement is that true mark of a good commander or leader."

LeMasters praised Wols' leadership and investment in the workforce and involvement in the community. "Don, I cannot thank you enough and on behalf of everybody at the Tank Automotive and Armament Command I wish you the very best. And I hope you realize that what you did here will far outlast you and you've set your replacement up for great success."

LeMasters then welcomed Letcher to the Arsenal by stating, "The Army always finds the right next leader to come in for the organization, Col. Ken Letcher. He comes to us with all the right skills, experiences, and leadership qualities. Welcome to AMC, welcome to TACOM, and more importantly, welcome to JMTC Rock Island."

In his remarks, Wols spoke about the people he had the honor to work with for the past two years and the success of the team at the Arsenal.

"The workforce is incredible, always eager to do more, always eager to improve, and always eager to meet warfighter requirements, and exceed their expectations."

"You, the JMTC workforce, had a lot of success in the last two years. That success led us to being readiness providers, able to deliver products to the Army and the joint warfighter quicker, at or under cost, and of the highest quality."

Wols concluded stating, "This has been a really special place to me for the past two years, you all had a part of it; the workforce, friends, peers, community, industry partners, fellow commanders, all of you. It was truly an honor to be the factory commander on an island in the middle of the Mississippi. Please continue to give your best to the men and woman who serve our nation every day at home and around the world."

Letcher began his remarks by extending greetings to special guests from the Rock Island Arsenal and local community and thanking his family for their continued support.

Letcher stated he was "truly honored to stand on the same ground here at Rock Island Arsenal where logisticians worked to support this great nation and our Army for over 150 years."

Commending Wols on his accomplishments to ensure the organization does its part to sustain Army readiness, Letcher stated, "I look forward to continuing that work and getting to know the great men and women that work on the factory floor, manufacturing readiness for our Army, the great men and women that work behind the scenes in offices and cubicles to make what we do possible."

Letcher comes to RIA-JMTC after completing the Army Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program (ASP3) Fellowship and working on a PhD in International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He has over 20 years experience serving in the Army, including tours in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Prior to completing the ASP3 Fellow, he commanded 553d Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade in Fort Hood, Texas and Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Wols has been reassigned to the J4 at the United States Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida.