ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Maj. Gen. John W. Charlton relinquished duties as the commander of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, or ATEC, to Brig. Gen. (Promotable) Joel K. Tyler during a change of command ceremony June 7 on Aberdeen Proving Ground.
A change of command is a military tradition that represents a transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit or command. The history, tradition, and accomplishments of the command are embodied in the colors. The passing of colors from an outgoing commander to an incoming commander ensures that the unit and its Soldiers are never without official leadership, represents a continuation of trust, and also signifies an allegiance of Soldiers to their unit's commander.
Lt. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, director of the Army Staff, presided over the ceremony. He highlighted Charlton's qualities as a leader and thanked him for demonstrating such leadership throughout his time in the Army.
"John and his 34 years of service have a great reputation across the Army as being a leader of great character, great talent… but I will also tell you he's a combat proven leader and innovator," said Cheek. "I think one of the things I really admire about him is he's able to take experiences from his previous assignments and blend those together with how to innovate and make it better at his next assignment."
Charlton assumed command of ATEC December 2016, prior to serving as the Vice Director for Joint Force Development with the Joint Staff in Suffolk, Virginia.
Some of Charlton's highlights at ATEC include: successfully commanded the largest test and evaluation enterprise in the Department of Defense, which included eight subordinate organizations; responsible for $5.5 billion in test infrastructure; served as a key advisor to Army senior leadership on all Army programs; provided independent test and evaluation support to thousands of Army programs annually; and led the way on implementing many initiatives as part of the Army's acquisition reform effort.
"Out of all the assignments I've had in my career, this one has been the most challenging," said Charlton. "This is a massive enterprise and the impact that this organization has on the Army can't be underestimated."
Charlton has been deployed to Germany, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, as well as serving in many stateside locations.
"I am humble and grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this team. It has truly been a remarkable journey for me with this command. I can't think of a better way to conclude my career than with this assignment," said Charlton.
Cheek also mentioned Charlton's wife of 33 years, Heidi, and thanked her for professional service to the Army and volunteer service as a spouse of an Army leader. "You have really just been the complete package and we are very thankful for your service, alongside your husband."
Charlton received the Distinguished Service Medal and Certificate of Appreciation from the Commander in Chief. Ms. Charlton received the Certificate of Appreciation from the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award.
Cheek introduced the new commander to the ATEC team. "I know him to be a reasoned, thoughtful and a very articulate, capable leader. You come to this command with a reputation as a strong and effective leader who performed exceptionally well as the Joint Modernization Commander. The ATEC community welcomes both you, Stacy and Sophia to the team and we look forward to your leadership."
Charlton also welcomed Tyler to the ATEC team. "I can't think of anyone else that is better suited to do this job. Every day is going to be a challenge but you are going to love it here [ATEC]."
Tyler previously served as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command at Fort Bliss, Texas. His other assignments include service stateside, in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Korea. Also, he has deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Spartan Shield.
"It is clear that we are working very hard to accomplish that sacred task to ensure our decision makers have the truth about our weapons and systems that we test to put the very best equipment in the hands of our Soldiers and give them the competitive edge they need in tomorrow's conflicts," Tyler said.
Tyler noted the challenge for ATEC is to retain that reputation for truth and meet the demand to do that more quickly in the future, and "I look forward to that challenge."