SEOUL -- The soul of a military unit is symbolized in the colors under which it fights — the colors passing from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander is a time-honored military tradition.
By authority of Army regulation 600-20, Col. Ellis R. Baker assumed responsibility of U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan-Casey (USAG Yongsan-Casey) from Col. Monica P. Washington during a change of command ceremony, July 10, 2020.
“The garrison command is unique among the Army’s commands — you are commander, mayor, and counselor for the entire community. This combination of duties presents distinct challenges that most Army leaders don’t come across,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel J. Christian, the deputy commanding general – sustainment at Eighth Army. “An Army garrison headquarters in the middle of a thriving metropolis such as Seoul, an area of responsibility spanning 78 miles from the DMZ to Yongin, and units stationed across 16 camps, 12 sites, and six training areas is certainly a unique challenge.
“Monica expertly conquered everything on her doorstep,” he said.
Washington was the first commander of the combined garrison, which is comprised of assets at installations at Yongsan, Casey and K-16, all geographically dispersed sites throughout Areas I and II. In accordance with USFK guidance [the Yongsan Relocation Plan (YRP) and Land Partnership Plan (LPP], the USAG Yongsan-Casey mission supports the larger transformation effort in Korea by initiating transformation and base-closures, and vacating and closing operations of non-enduring camps.
Additionally, the garrison is responsible for the relocation of Service Members from installations north of Seoul to two enduring hubs in the central and southern areas.
“I was blessed to serve with an outstanding group of subject matter experts,” said Col. Monica P. Washington. “…Responding to the housing crisis, destructive weather such as Typhoon Ling-Ling, the lack of SMA, and COVID-19.”
Under Washington’s command the organization not only received a commendable rating for the Full-Scale Exercise, it won the 8th Army Safety Award, and successfully merged two Garrisons and deactivated, vacated and closed another Garrison. During the COVID-19 response, despite being the USFK installation surrounded by the most hot spots, Washington’s communities, Area I and II, remained COVID-free.
“I have mixed emotions on departing but I go with a smile knowing the Army sent Col. Ellis Baker and his family,” she said. “Ellis, I wish you the very best as you lead the organization to its greatest heights. Yongsan-Casey is ready, resilient and prepared to fight tonight.”
Due to COVID-19 response the headquarters staff didn’t attend. Maj. Gen. Christian presided over the ceremony, but, J. Scott Peterson the acting director of Installation Management Command Pacific sent a note to be read during the ceremony.
“It is our pleasure to warmly welcome Col. Ellis Baker [the commander of USAG Yongsan-Casey], said Peterson, “His wealth of knowledge and experience on the peninsula, combined with extraordinary military career. He will certainly ensure the Yongsan-Casey team continues to perform at the highest levels.”
Baker is joining the team at a pivotal time, he said.
“I am happy to be back in Korea,” Baker said. “It is my second home.”
Baker said, it’s an honor to be here to return the Historic Yongsan back to the Republic of Korea.