FORT SILL, Okla. (Jan. 31, 2019) -- During a battle assembly weekend the Army Reserve makes every hour count. It has to because it is performing a month's amount of work in two days.
The 95th Training Division (Initial Entry Training) at Fort Sill wasted no time as it conducted a change of responsibility, a promotion of a general officer, a change of command, and a retirement ceremony all in one afternoon Jan. 26, at Vessey Hall.
First, the change of responsibility ceremony saw Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Potts take over the duties from division Command Sgt. Maj. John Stumph. Then, Col. Charles Sentell III was promoted to brigadier general. Immediately following his promotion, Sentell took the reins as the 95th commanding general from Brig. Gen. R. Andrew Bassford during a change of command. And, Bassford was honored during a retirement ceremony.
The ceremony featured Soldiers in formation from 95th Training Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and 1st Brigade, who drill at Fort Sill; as well as Soldiers from its 2nd and 3rd brigades, many of whom traveled from across the country. Dozens of family members, friends, co-workers, and veterans from Louisiana, Texas, and North Carolina also made the trip here.
Maj. Gen. Kate Leahy, 108th Training Command (IET) commanding general, and reviewing officer for the change of command, jokingly said the 95th Training Division "Iron Men of Metz" may have set a Guinness World Record for most ceremonies within a ceremony for the Army.
Leahy thanked Bassford and Stumph and recounted their numerous accomplishments over the past three years.
Under their leadership the 95th Training Division has positioned itself as the premiere training unit supporting the Training and Doctrine Command in its essential mission of turning ordinary citizens into extraordinary Soldiers, she said. "Well done!"
Bassford led the division through a complete reformation reorganization, while simultaneously providing more Reserve Soldiers for the increased end-strength mission at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Under his command the division consistently produced the most drill sergeants in the entire 108th Training Command, the major general said.
He was also responsible for the readiness and professional education of over 2,800 Army Reserve Soldiers in four brigades located in 26 states, Leahy said. "His focus on readiness increased the number of Soldiers available to support every one of the division's missions."
As a direct result of the 95th Training Division's success TRADOC was able to expand training to meet the chief of staff's requirement to increase the number of Soldiers on active duty, and in the Reserve and Army National Guard, she said.
"General Bassford, congratulations on your successful command tenure," Leahy said. "You leave the 95th Training Division a better unit than you found it. And, we thank you for your service to our nation."
Leahy welcomed Sentell, whom she said was selected for his track record of proven performance.
"I know of no more qualified, competent command team than you and Command Sgt. Maj. Potts to take this command to the next level," Leahy said. "I know that you will sustain this command, be a leader of character, and build upon the success of General Bassford and Command Sgt. Maj. Stumph."
Sentell said he was honored, humbled, and lucky to be the new commanding general.
"My promotion is the reflection of the hard work and sacrifices of so many others," Sentell said. He thanked his family and numerous friends by name.
He also thanked Soldiers that he has worked with past and present.
"I've had incredible NCOs who mentored me, and officers, and many subordinates who did the heavy lifting to help us succeed," he said.
He described his leadership style as mission command -- that is, empowering his subordinates.
"They think they work for me, but I work for them," Sentell said. "My job is to make sure that they (leaders) have all the resources, the personnel, everything that they need to be successful."
Bassford began by thanking Stumph for making the 95th a successful division. He said it was great honor to lead the division during its centennial year which began in September, but more importantly it was an honor to lead Soldiers.
Brassford's advice to leaders?
"Never be in a hurry, never make decisions emotionally, always think through what you're doing," he said. "As a leader, ego is your enemy. As a leader you are no better, no different, or no more important than the Soldiers that you lead."
During the change of responsibility, Operations Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Kropf passed the NCO sword to Stumph, who then handed it to Bassford signifying his relinquishment of duties, said program narrator Lt. Col. Robert Hoffman, 95th Training Division command inspector general. Bassford then passed the sword Potts charging him with the responsibilities as the new CSM. Potts then returned the sword to Kropf.
Potts acknowledged numerous leaders and family and friends. "Each of you has had a profound impact on my personal and professional life and career," he said.
Potts said he will be a 360-degree command sergeant major.
"I am going to lead and communicate to the south to the Soldiers under my care. I will block and tackle obstacles for you to succeed," he said. "I'm going to communicate east and west to my peers to ensure they do the same. I'm also going to communicate north to my superiors to understand the issues."
Stumph moves on to join the G3/5/7 staff at the 108th Training Command in Charlotte, N.C.
He thanked Bassford for setting a positive command climate. He also acknowledged all the brigade command sergeants major for his success.
"These guys were the drivers," Stumph said. "All I had to do was to provide some instruction, and run some interference."