By Christina Steiner, Fort Sill TribuneJune 28, 2018
FORT SILL, Oklahoma (June 28, 2018) -- About 130 distinguished visitors, Soldiers, other service members, family members, and civilians attended a half-hour ceremony for new commandant, incoming brigadier general, who transferred from the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.
The ceremony commenced June 22, outside McNair Hall. The commandant also happens to be the branch chief of field artillery. In this sense, the "one star" wears two hats.
Brig. Gen. Stephen Smith, graduate of The Citadel, has served in some high-level assignments, to include executive officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, where he served several duties and positions; 1st Infantry Division; 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment; 25th Infantry Division and chief of staff for the XVII Airborne Corp, to name a few. He also deployed to Hungary in support of Operation Joint Guardian; he deployed in support of Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts; he deployed to Afghanistan; and finally, he served as director of operations for Iraq and Syria as a member of the Coalition Joint Task Force Operation.
Attendees included Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, Fort Sill and Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) commanding general, and the featured speaker. Other guests included deputy to the commanding general Joe Gallagher; Oklahoma civilian aide to secretary of the Army Bill Burgess; mayor of Lawton Fred Fitch; director of Air Missile Defense Cross Functional Team, Brig. Gen. Randall McIntyre; Cameron University vice president of advancement Albert Johnson Jr. and interim president of Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce Jamie Southerland.
Shoffner explained the role Smith will play: "I want to talk about the importance of the field artillery commandant position and what it means not just for Fort Sill, but for our Army. Some will remember a few years ago the commandant was the two star, and the one star was actually the assistant commandant.
"A few years ago that changed; what didn't change were the duties and responsibilities," he continued. "In other words, the commandant still has to do all the things that the two star had to do. As the commandant he wears two hats. The first is the chief of the Field Artillery Branch and the second as the commandant.
"There's a bit of distinction," Shoffner said. "As the commandant he is the proponent for the branch; he's the No. 1 person, he's the lead, the responsible agent for the following things: All leader development, all education, all branch-specific training, all lessons learned that come out of the field -- Iraq, Afghanistan, other places, the accessions strategy for the branch -- kind of a big deal since we're growing the Army, and talent manager of all our Soldiers and leaders. That's the branch chief responsibility. As the commandant, he's got oversight of all Field Artillery School activities, and he represents me as required."
Smith took the podium.
"I have confidence that we'll get those things done not because of me, but because of the team I inherited at Lawton-Fort Sill." After thanking protocol, the color guard, the Fort Sill Artillery Half Section and Brig. Gen. Stephen Maranian, his incoming sponsor, Smith continued: "Serving as director of operations for Iraq and Syria last year, I had the opportunity to observe firsthand the responsiveness, the devastating lethality, the accuracy and absolute power of our joint and multinational fires team against a ruthless and committed enemy dug in dense urban terrain.
"The performance of this fires team in Iraq and Syria was the decisive factor in achieving the ground forces' commander's intent over there," he said.
"Coming out of that experience I'm more confident than ever that our fires forward fighting function is the king of battle, always has been, always will be. I committed to the branch this morning that everything I do as a commandant and as a chief field artilleryman, and everything we do as a team and at the Field Artillery School be laser focused and rigorous to ensure the field artillery is in support of our joint partners and our Army. With our multinational partners (we) remain forever and always the king of battle, ready to fight, ready to win in large-scale combat operations against a peer threat."
Smith ended with "Fires strong. King of battle."
Following his speech, he and his family went inside McNair Hall to shake hands with guests and well wishers. Cake and beverages rounded out the event.