FORT BRAGG, N.C. − Soldiers from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command said farewell to Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo, USASOC commanding general, and welcomed Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette during a change of command ceremony at Meadows Field June 8, 2018.
Tovo relinquished command of USASOC to Beaudette after nearly three years as the commanding general of the prestigious unit. During the ceremony, Tovo not also retired from the Army after 39 years of service.
Everyone in attendance was on their feet as the orders were read and Lt. Gen Tovo was officially retired from active duty. Members of the 1st Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, fired a 21 gun salute in his honor. Tovo was then presented with the artillery shell casting as a symbol of Tovo's last salute as the commanding general.
Gen. Tony Thomas, commanding general of U.S. Special Operations Command, Tampa, Florida, officiated the ceremony and passed the unit colors from Tovo to Beaudette, representing the transfer of authority.
Thomas said that under the command of Lt. Gen Tovo, USASOC has undergone significant changes that affected the entire community. Tovo was responsible for addressing the deployment to dwell ratio, going from a one to one ratio, to a one to two ratio. Tovo also directed and supervised an end to end review of USASOC to identify challenges to be addressed, such as restructuring pay, community outreach, strategic messaging, and unit based recruiting.
"SOCOM is blessed to have no shortage of superb, combat tested, senior leaders," Thomas said. "If anything, the biggest challenge or dilemma I face is a tough selection of the very best to assume positions of greater responsibility."
"In Fran Beaudette, we have that man. In my opinion, the most qualified officer to take this great organization to the next level," Thomas added.
Tovo congratulated Beaudette and his family on taking command of USASOC, adding "You now have the best job our Army can offer you."
Tovo said he's had the opportunity to serve the Nation, alongside its finest sons and daughters, and uphold the ideals embodied in the constitution.
"I am keenly aware that my success in the Army has many stakeholders. I appreciate all of you, more than you can know, and certainly more than I can adequately express," Tovo said.
"I once served under a commander who would often remind us, that contributions to success in combat are not measured solely by ones proximity to the sound of gun fire. That certainly applies to the staff of this headquarters," he added.
Suzanne Tovo was presented with a bouquet of 33 long stem red roses from Lt. Gen Tovo, representing the number of years of marriage, in appreciation for her support throughout the their service.
Suzanne presented Liz Beaudette with her USASOC pin, which she wore over her heart throughout her three years as the senior spouse. Additionally, Liz Beaudette was presented with a bouquet of long stemmed yellow roses as a symbol of the command's heart-felt welcome.
"This is an exceptional command with a tremendous responsibility," Beaudette said. "We will continue to empower our men and women to be the global standard of excellence," he added.
Beaudette is assuming command of USASOC after completing his previous command assignment at 1st Special Forces Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.