1st Theater Sustainment Command welcomed a new commanding general during change of command ceremony here July 13.
Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell, Sr. assumed command of the 1st TSC from outgoing Commander Maj. Gen. John P. Sullivan.
Lt. Gen. Terry R. Ferrell, commanding general, U.S. Army Central, serving as the reviewing officer for the ceremony, spoke to the 1st TSC Soldiers, families, friends and distinguished guests.
“Today is a bittersweet day, because we are going to say farewell to a phenomenal commander and a great command team,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell presented Sullivan with the Distinguished Service Medal prior to the change of command ceremony. He spoke about his many accomplishments during his two-year command, complimenting his character.
“If you want to see what right looks like, you look at John Sullivan,” Farrell said.
Ferrell then presented Jennifer Sullivan with the Superior Public Service Medal for her work in supporting the unit over the past two years.
“John and Jen Sullivan have really done a marvelous job in this organization, but we’re going to hand it over to a great command team as they come on board,” Ferrell said. “Mike and Sieglinde Russell are ready for the task.”
“This organization will not lose a step, they will not miss a beat, and we know why, because they are the heartbeat of ARCENT. They are actually the heartbeat of CENTCOM, because we could do nothing in the Middle East without this command,” Ferrell emphasized.
Ferrell said that before the decision was made to start drawing down in Afghanistan, we had to start reducing our footprint.
“That burden, that task, fell to this command- to the shoulders of John Sullivan,” Ferrell added.
Recounting many of the command’s achievements under Sullivan over the past two years, the ARCENT commander focused on one innocuous story.
“One of the greatest highlights, which goes under the radar is that we have Army watercraft that fell under the responsibility of the 1st TSC,” Ferrell began. We had to send those ships from Bahrain back to the United States.”
Ferrell described, “By the way, all of this is occurring in the height of COVID, the height of Iranian aggression, in the height of the all the activities going on in the region, and under John’s leadership and the management of 1st TSC, those two little ships and their crews managed to transit from Bahrain to Virginia, passing through three different fleets of the United States Navy with no issues and COVID free,” he said.
“When we got to the coast, you would be amazed at the number of commanders who asked about what we were doing,” Ferrell said. “I referred them all to John, because I could not begin to describe what we had just done, because it was such a phenomenal feat,” he concluded.
Ferrell closed by welcoming Russell to the team. “ARCENT will rely on you. Take care of your troopers. Lead them well and they will perform,” Ferrell said.
Sullivan began his remarks by thanking Ferrell for the kind words and by offering his heartfelt appreciation to everyone who helped organize the ceremony. He praised the Soldiers, civilians, families, and all of 1st TSC and added that he was grateful for having the honor and privilege to lead the First Team.
“It was an honor serving with you,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan emphasized the importance of his NCO counsel as well by paying tribute to both of the command sergeants major he served alongside during his time in command.
Referencing Command Sgt. Maj. Bernard Smalls, the former Blackjack 7 who traveled to Fort Knox from North Carolina for the event and Command Sgt. Major Michael Perry, the current Blackjack 7, Sullivan offered effusive praise.
“I couldn’t be more thankful for the counsel both of you provided every day and the guidance you imparted on our Soldiers. Both of you made me a better officer and a better person for knowing you and I thank you for that,” said Sullivan.
He went on to explain the importance of choosing the right senior enlisted advisor to serve in the position.
“You may have heard me say it before, but if I had to lose Command Sgt. Maj. Smalls to Fort Bragg, choosing Command Sgt. Maj. Perry was likely the single best choice I made during my time in command here,” Sullivan added.
He also thanked everyone at ARCENT, the Fort Knox community, and the individual subordinate unit commanders, nicknamed “the colonels network” who he said embody our Army values of selfless service. “I am inspired by all you do,” Sullivan said.
“I look forward to the next chapter and welcome Major General Russell,” he said.
“You are inheriting a great group of sustainers,” Sullivan told Russell.
Russell most recently served as the assistant deputy chief of staff, G4, Headquarters Department of the Army, and he has held a number of key developmental, broadening, and command assignments throughout his career.
During his remarks, he thanked his family, all guests, and said “I am inheriting a great command team.”
“This is an honor and a privilege,” Russell said. “There can be no hubris when taking over a command, whether it’s a platoon or the 1st Theater Sustainment Command. I really understand the way of this command. I will never take it lightly. I will absolutely never abuse it, or let it be abused. I will always move our legacy forward in support of ARCENT.”