FORT LEE, Va. (July 9, 2021) – Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly has a new office, new rank insignia and new chain of command in an old place of duty.
Shortly after being promoted to major general, Simerly became the CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, a title he assumed during a change of command ceremony July 9 at the Lee Theater. He previously served a two-year stint here concluding in 2017 as director of the CASCOM’s Capabilities, Development and Integration Directorate.
Simerly replaced Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, who has led the Sustainment Center of Excellence since 2018.
Lt. Gen. Theordore D. Martin, commanding general of Combined Arms Command, hosted the ceremony. Gen. Edward M. Daly, commanding general of Army Materiel Command, officiated Simerly’s promotion prior to the change of command.
The CAC and CASCOM are both subordinate commands of the Training and Doctrine Command headquartered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. AMC is closely aligned with many of CASCOM’s sustainment functions.
Simerly, a 1984 University of Richmond graduate, arrived here from an assignment in South Korea as director, J-4, U.S. Forces Korea, and deputy director, C/J-4, United Nations Command. His preceding position was commander, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Daegu, South Korea.
The event, attended by a who’s who of the Army’s sustainment community, also attracted many local community members. The formalities were moved to the historic theater from CASCOM’s Seay Field due to the effects of Tropical Storm Elsa.
Martin, formerly TRADOC’s deputy commanding general, said during his speech that Simerly is well-prepared to lead CASCOM to the next level, courtesy of his stint with the 19th ESC and CFC.
“If you’re not familiar with the mission,” he said of the former, “it’s responsible for setting the theater for not only the United States Army but the United States Combined Forces Command-Korea, and having been a customer, I can tell you that is a difficult job. It has prepared him to write the doctrine and modify the education and training of Soldiers so that we’re ready for large-scale ground combat operations.”
Simerly’s follow-on Korea assignment was just as valuable, Martin said.
“He served as the J-4 logistician so he’s seen it at the boots-on-the-ground level and combatant (command) level and knows what it takes to supply and sustain our forces in combat,” he said. “That’s exactly the kind of leader of character we need at the Sustainment Center of Excellence.”
During his remarks, Simerly immediately showed he had a sense of humor.
“My job, unlike my predecessors at the podium, is to be brief,” he said to a chorus of growing laughter. “That’s not only for my benefit. That’s for your benefit.”
Simerly was brief. He thanked all on hand for the occasion, including leaders, community members and military personnel. The commander also was grateful to God for the “opportunity to command this incredible organization … the opportunity to return to Fort Lee so near where my Army career began, and to lead this outstanding group of American Soldiers, Department of the Army Civilians, contractors and family members.”
Lastly, Simerly said he looks forward to his tenure as commanding general.
“We have much to accomplish together,” he said to the audience, “in building the Army sustainment capability to support readiness now and the Army of the future.
“To continue the arc of CASCOM’s success,” he continued, “we must meet the demand for more coordination, innovation and collaboration. We’ll also must live up to our Army’s expectation that we put people first by always treating each other with dignity and respect, by creating diverse, cohesive teams and seeking to achieve inclusion and equity for every member of the team in order to make CASCOM and the Army stronger.”
Fogg, who has served in numerous capacities at Fort Lee prior to becoming the installation’s senior mission commander, spent considerably more time speaking to the audience. He began his speech with somewhat of a self-deprecating apology for executing less-than-ideal facing movements during the traditional passing of the flags.
“First, I did notice my commands and my turning motions coming up here were a little off,” he said to chuckling audience members. “So, Command Sergeant Major (Jorge) Escobedo, it wasn’t because of a lack of training; it was absolutely my fault. Honestly, nobody noticed other than the NCOs, who absolutely noticed. I don’t know; probably, deep down, I just wanted to drag this on just a little bit longer because this has been spectacular.”
Escobedo is CASCOM’s senior enlisted Soldier.
On a more serious note, Fogg said his time at Fort Lee has been “bittersweet.”
“We’ve been here awhile; an unusually long time,” he said. “And so, the way I look at it, we’ve been absolutely blessed to be here for almost three years in the current job amongst friends and family, an outstanding team of professionals and a wonderful community. Janey and I – the way we look at it – is that the Lord puts you where you’re supposed to be and leads you on to the next place. That’s what’s going on.”
Fogg congratulated Simerly on his promotion and welcomed his family. He later spent several minutes thanking everyone for their attendance, those who supported the event and those who impacted his command.
He reserved special mention, though, for CASCOM’s Force Modernization Directorate.
“Like Gen. Martin said, we’re here for a reason – to fight and win on the battlefield and to modernize the sustainment war-fighter function – and this team has done incredible work, redefining our formations and our doctrine, looking at large-scale combat operations and multi-domain operations. It’s done incredible work looking at the capabilities to fuel, move and to maintain our Army forces on the battlefield and to support joint forces.
“The team has worked multiple force designs and updates; they brought division sustainment brigades into our formations; they are looking at innovative technologies that produce log products and improve doctrine and training. I could go on, but I won’t. I just have to mention the hours and hours of work and the monumental things they have pushed forward. Thank you so much.”
As mentioned by Martin, Fogg spent the last 15 months steering a ship through the storm of COVID-19, requiring him to employ strategies to deal with the pandemic while executing a sprawling training mission. He highlighted how the installation stepped up to meet challenges, using a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote to illustrate his point.
“‘When it’s dark enough, you see the stars.’ Our Soldiers and leaders were the bright and shiny stars, confronting and overcoming these challenges. The pandemic placed tremendous additional demands on our people, particularly our leaders, and out leaders responded. The long hours became longer hours. … (people) put themselves at risk, being exposed, then going home and putting their families at risk.
“Our parents who both work – dual military, single parents – often had to balance virtual school and job responsibilities, but we all came together and we led with compassion. …. The team inside this Lee Playhouse today and really across all of Fort Lee and all of our organizations received and cared for over 50,000 service members in the midst of the pandemic.”
Fogg ended his speech on a sincere note of gratitude, thanking among many his personal staff and his wife Janey and their daughters.
A native of Castlewood in the far western part of Tennessee, Fogg began his career as a ROTC graduate at East Tennessee State University in 1987. He has commanded the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Fort Richardson, Alaska; the 49th Quartermaster Group, Fort Lee; and 13th Sustainment Command, Fort Hood, Texas. He also served as the 54th QM General.
The Fogg family is heading to Redstone Arsenal, Ala., where the general is scheduled to take on an assignment with the Army Materiel Command.
To view the change of command ceremony online, visit www.facebook.com/USACASCOM/videos/600277827619494.