By W. Wayne MarlowOctober 30, 2018
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Lt. Gen. Thomas S. James Jr. became the 39th First Army commanding general during an assumption of command ceremony on Oct. 29 here on Memorial Field.
Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, U.S. Army Forces Command acting commanding general, hosted the ceremony and welcomed James to the team.
"It is a special day for this outstanding leader, but most importantly, it is a special day for the Soldiers, civilians, and families of First Army," Richardson said. She then explained the importance of the job James assumed.
"First Army drives multi-component collective training during pre- and post-mobilization to ensure a combat-ready total force," she said. "Training, mobilizing, and deploying America's Soldiers, a fundamental mission that contributes on a large scale to the readiness of all three Army components. First Army is an outstanding organization and we are proud of its tremendous accomplishments and its consistent excellence. These Soldiers are premier trainers, tactical and technical experts in their field, and are absolute professionals."
The man now leading them expressed his love for the job. "Soldiering is an affair of the heart," James said. "I feel privileged to stand on this field with so many of you who share my passion for our great army."
The realities of the modern battlefield make First Army's mission timely and critical, James added.
"As I started wrapping my arms around the enormity of the First Army mission, it's clear to me how important this great formation is as we continue to partner with our component teammates and generate combat-ready forces that are prepared to fight and win in a complex world," he said. "The Army absolutely cannot complete its primary mission to fight and win our nation's wars without leveraging the unique capabilities of both our components, Active and Reserve."
James added that with U.S. troops having been in combat around the globe for over 17 years, and with other potential hotspots looming, readiness is crucial.
"We must be conscious of where we are in order to be prepared for what might come. I tell you this to emphasize what I mean about the critical importance of the First Army mission," he said. "Since 9/11, First Army has mobilized, trained, and deployed more than 1.2 million troops in the fight."
James noted that this number highlights the importance of Reserve Component readiness.
"We no longer have the luxury of training up our Reserve Component once some catastrophic event has occurred," he said. "Our new normal is that we must always stand ready. We must always be the most lethal and capable ground force in this ever-changing world."