FORT SILL, Okla. (Nov. 16, 2017) -- Just 15 months after assuming command of the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, Maj. Gen. Brian J. McKiernan passed the reigns to Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner during a change of command ceremony Nov. 9, at Old Post Quadrangle.

Shoffner was most recently on the Army staff in the Pentagon as director, Army Talent Management Task Force, and director of Operations, Army Rapid Capabilities Office. McKiernan moves on to Fort Bragg, N.C., where he will become the deputy commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps.

Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, Combined Arms Center (CAC) and Fort Leavenworth (Kan.) commanding general, was the reviewing officer for the ceremony. He thanked McKiernan and his wife, Dr. Sharon McKiernan, and he welcomed the Shoffners.

"When we think about professionals we think of character, we think of commitment, we think of competence," Lundy said. "Brian and Sharon exemplify every bit of that."

Being a commanding general of a Center of Excellence is challenging, and especially the Fires Center of Excellence because it has field artillery, and air defense artillery, he said.

"It challenges you to become competent in those things you may have never been exposed to," Lundy said.

"He (McKiernan) has changed our Army in a very positive way at the strategic level to bring Fires back to the forefront," Lundy said. "Brian, you made our Army better, you made our families here better, you made this community better."

Lundy said the XVIII Airborne Corps is the most-ready, global response force in the Army. "We only pick our very best to be able do that. You certainly are absolutely the one to take on that key position."

Lundy said that he suggested to headquarters to bring Shoffner to the FCoE and Fort Sill.

"He's a consummate field artilleryman," Lundy said. "He's coming from the Pentagon where he's been working the very same issues that he's going to be faced with here with rapid capability development, and also looking at talent management."

"Al (Maj. Gen. Shoffner), to you and Carron (Fort Sill first lady) we're certainly happy that you're taking this mantle," Lundy said. "It's a huge responsibility, but you will absolutely find this to be the most rewarding job."

During the ceremony, FCoE and Fort Sill Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Fagan handed the FCoE colors to McKiernan, who in turn handed them to Lundy symbolizing his relinquishment of command. The CAC commander then passed the colors to Shoffner signifying his assumption of command. Shoffner then returned the colors to Fagan for safekeeping.

McKiernan noted that the grass on the parade field was green in November. "I think it's because the drought in Southwest Oklahoma is over, and I think it's the same for the Fires force," he said.

The past 18 months has been a critical period for the Fires force, McKiernan said.

"We've seen a laser-like focus by Army senior leadership on closing the gaps in capability, capacity of our air and missile defense, and field artillery forces' ability to support joint combined arms maneuver in large-scale combat operations."

McKiernan thanked his staff; numerous brigade, tenant, community and business leaders; and the Lawton-Fort Sill community.

McKiernan called himself and Sharon, Lawtonians. "This is now our hometown," he said.

He went on to thank Sharon for all her sacrifices to keep 'Team McKiernan' together. He also thanked his four daughters, whom he described as, "model Army kids -- resilient and adaptive and tremendously successful in your own right."

In his speech Shoffner acknowledged numerous Soldiers and mentors from his past, as well as classmates from West Point in attendance.

He said this is an exciting time to be in the Fires force, and that he was looking forward to being a part of the FCoE, and the Lawton-Fort Sill community.

"I intend to do all that I absolutely can to continue the momentum that General McKiernan and the FCoE team have contributed toward renewing the world's premier Fires force with new capabilities," he said.

Shoffner also thanked his wife, Carron, and daughter, Kristin, as well as other family members who were able to attend the ceremony.