NAS JRB NEW ORLEANS, Belle Chasse, La. --
With the oppressive heat of the Kuwaiti desert bearing down, a young and pensive lieutenant colonel gave his final instructions to the troops as the chief of operations for the 377th Support Command during a 2004 unit deployment to Camp Arifjan. Fifteen years later, that same officer stood during a ceremony in an open hangar, in southern Louisiana heat no less stifling, to bid farewell to his troops again, this time as a commanding general.
"This has been a distinct honor to come back to a unit that I served with many years ago in a foreign land," said now Major General Steven Ainsworth, former Commanding General of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command to Soldiers and guests. "This has been humbling."
In a time honored Army tradition Ainsworth passed the unit guidon to the incoming commander, Maj. Gen. Greg Mosser, in a ceremony held at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans on August 3, 2019. The event served as the final time that Ainsworth would address the troops as commander after serving as their leader for the past two years.
"Two years ago I stated that command is not about the commander, it's about the unit and improving going forward for the Soldiers, civilians, and Army," he reflected. "Each day we incrementally tried to do that."
During Ainsworth's tenure, the command went through a plethora of changes as it sought to meet the evolving demands of the Army Reserve. This paradigm shift in responsibility was highlighted by the unit's transition into a support role for U.S. Army North. The assignment brought with it new and unprecedented challenges for the unit, from engagement with civilian leaders to assist in disaster relief as part of Defense Support of Civilian Authorities (DSCA) to a robust domestic initiative to strengthen the capabilities of homeland defense.
Despite the challenges of the transition, the unit managed to improve over 10% across the command in medical readiness, a key metric that enables units to send trained and capable Soldiers to deployed environments. Training was also a key point of success for the command throughout Ainsworth's time at the helm, with over 20,000 Soldiers from the unit conducting training at bases across the country to maintain the 377th Theater Sustainment Command's reputation for logistical efficiency and combat lethality.
The extensive preparation had its purpose as three of the four expeditionary sustainment commands within the unit footprint deployed in support of operations in the Middle East over the course of Ainsworth's tenure. He oversaw hundreds of units within the command deployed throughout the world to lend their unique logistical capabilities to the front lines.
Major General A.C. Roper, Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Reserve Command served as the host of the ceremony and had nothing but confidence in the future of the command.
"This ceremony represents the pinnacle of achievement for these two commanding officers," he said. "It is significant because it is a public demonstration of continuity and it represents a promise that this unit and this command will always stand ready to accomplish the mission regardless of the turnover in its ranks."
The incoming commander, Maj. Gen. Mosser, also understood the nature of Ainsworth's accomplishments. "I can't express all the good work he's done here," he said. "What he has achieved here in a short time is nothing short of amazing."
Mosser expressed his desire to maintain the course the unit has taken, and ensure going forward that its posturing is in keeping with the Army Reserve as a whole. Above all, he highlighted the importance of maintaining a balance in an increasingly demanding Army Reserve lifestyle.
"It's about readiness, it's about deploying Soldiers and leaders," he emphasized. "Most of all, it's about supporting and caring for families."
Going forward, Ainsworth will serve as the commanding general of the 84th Training Command in Fort Knox, KY. The unit is the lead for the U.S. Army Reserve's Combat Support Training Programs and oversees collective training events ranging from Warrior Exercises (WAREX) to Combat Support Training Exercises (CSTX).
While Ainsworth left an indelible mark on the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, it was clear during the ceremony that the command did the same to him. "I am glad we were able to work on a vision and build a unit, I cannot think of any better way to have spent time and effort," he said. "This unit will forever be in my heart and in my thoughts."