FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Oct. 2, 2019) -- The Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill saluted its new Army National Guard deputy commanding general (field artillery) during a welcome and farewell ceremony Oct. 2, outside McNair Hall.

Dozens of post and community leaders said hello to Brig. Gen. Tom Spencer, and goodbye to Brig. Gen. Russell Johnson, who held the position for the past two years.

Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, FCoE and Fort Sill commanding general, hosted the ceremony. He welcomed the Spencers, and thanked the Johnsons.

Shoffner said the active-duty force will be fighting alongside the National Guard. In large scale combat, there will be many National Guard units fighting before active-duty units. They will arrive in-theatre in days.

Spencer said it felt good to be back at Fort Sill. He was here in 1987, in the Officer Basic Course, and spent four years here in his first duty assignment. He had returned here over the years for advanced field artillery (FA) training.

In his new role, Spencer said he is responsible for representing the director of the Army National Guard at Fort Sill, and the Training and Doctrine Command. His responsibilities include FA planning, force structure, and equipment, as they are incorporated into the total force. Additionally, Spencer is the deputy commanding general for the 42nd Infantry Division.

It's a fantastic time to be in field artillery because Fires is a priority as the Army is modernizing, Spencer said.

"Looking to the future, the capability that the Army can bring (to the fight) is going to be resting right there with the artillery," said Spencer, who in his civilian job works in the pharmaceutical industry in New England. "This is a pivotal time of change and development.

"In the Army, 64 percent of the artillery is in its National Guard," he said.

Spencer described his leadership style.

"I truly live by the definition of the ability to motivate and influence others to accomplish a mission or task," he said. From one of his division commanders he had learned TIPS: talk, inform, predictability, and sensitivity. "I like to have that communication flow that is horizontal and vertical, and make sure there is solid predictability and expectations and results."

Johnson said much ground has been covered his past two years as Fires modernizes, but much remains to be traveled.

"I join you in welcoming Brig. Gen. Tom Spencer … and I know the Army Fires team is in great hands," he said.