REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Army Contracting Command welcomed its new commander at a change of command ceremony May 31 at the Bob Jones Auditorium.

Brig. Gen. Paul H. Pardew assumed command from Maj. Gen. James E. Simpson, who served as commanding general since Aug. 19, 2015. Gen. Gus Perna, commanding general of Army Materiel Command, officiated the ceremony, recognizing Simpson's accomplishments and looking to the future.

"Today is a bitter farewell to a great leader, Soldier, technical expert and personal friend," said Perna. "But it is also a day where we enlighten ourselves and we are grateful to have a new leader with us."

Perna welcomed Pardew, looking forward to the challenges ahead.

"We know what you can do because in your heart, you truly are a Soldier," Perna said. "You will lead, you will take the hard knocks, you will be responsible and we will accomplish great things."

ACC's new commanding general is not a new face. Pardew previously served as the ACC deputy commanding general for overseas operations. He has also been confirmed by the Senate for promotion to major general.

"I am proud to continue to work with each and every one of you to support the nation's warfighters with world-class contracting support," Pardew said to the contracting workforce.

ACC serves as the Army's principal buying agent, securing contracts to ensure Soldiers have the supplies, service and equipment they need. Its team of more than 6,000 military and civilian employees execute more than 160,000 contract actions each fiscal year.

In conjunction with the change of command, Simpson retired after 33 years of service. During his command, ACC facilitated nearly half a million contract actions valued at more than $167 billion. Simpson spoke about the ups and downs over the last three fiscal years, and praised his team for its perseverance.

"You are mountain climbers. You've been conquering mountains since this command was formed 10 years ago," he said. "The bad news is, there's always another mountain to climb. The good news is, you are skilled professionals trained in the art of delivering contracting solutions for our Army, and you are the team that will conqueror the next mountain."

The change of command ceremony dates back to the U.S. military's early days. The ceremony involves passing an organizational flag from the former commander to the new commander, as unit members watch their new leader take command.

During the ceremony, Pardew thanked Simpson for his guidance and support, while also expressing his excitement to continue working with the Soldiers, civilians, contractors and local nationals at ACC.