The 21st Theater Sustainment Command bid farewell to Maj. Gen. James Smith and welcomed Brig. Gen. Ronald Ragin as the new commanding general in a change of command ceremony officiated by Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe and Africa, Gen. Darryl A. Williams, on NCO Field, Daenner Kaserne, Kaiserslautern, Germany, June 7, 2023.
Smith assumed command two years ago and will leave to HQDA G-4 in Washington, DC. Previously the Deputy Commander for Support, Security Assistance Group-Ukraine and Germany, Ragin joins the 21st TSC with a doctorate in public policy and five operational assignments in the Middle East.
Attending the ceremony were representatives from communal, regional and state authorities as well as high-ranking international military representatives including Maj. Gen. André Bodemann, commander, Bundeswehr Homeland Defence Command, and Interior Minister of Rhineland-Pfalz, Michael Ebling.
In his remarks, Williams cited a renewed appreciation of the critical warfighting role of logistics and 21st TSC’s achievements under Smith’s leadership.
“As [Vladimir] Putin’s brutal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine has seen the tragedy of war return to the great continent of Europe, as the international community has come together to provide unprecedented levels of support for Ukraine, and as the SACEUR [Supreme Allied Commander Europe] has reinvigorated deterrence and defense of the Euro-Atlantic area, so too has the importance of assured theater logistics been reinvigorated,” said Williams. “Quite simply, operations cannot succeed without them.”
Williams highlighted 21st TSC’s success in assuring logistics and diversifying U.S. ability to flow forces into and across Europe, including using the ports of Aarhus, Denmark and Bar, Montenegro for the first time; validating numerous inland lines of communication from Greece to Estonia; enhancing U.S. capability to move by multiple means including line-haul, rail and inland waterways, and reducing the friction of crossing borders by engaging with Allies and partners and strengthening bilateral relationships, including the first engagement with the Finnish Defense Forces Logistics Command.
Williams also commended Smith and Team 21 for their work supporting more than 22,000 Afghan travelers in the Ramstein and Kaiserslautern Military communities during Operation Allies Welcome and Operation Enduring Welcome as they transitioned to starting new lives in the United States.
During his remarks, Smith made it a point to thank individuals and organizations, including the Interior Ministry of Rhineland Pfalz and local officials for their hospitality, collaboration and strong partnerships.
He paid special recognition to the Bundeswehr Joint Support Enabling Service and its Chief, Lt. Gen. Martin Schelleis. “Our commands’ relationship has proven extremely vital given the multinational complexities of our sustainment and our maneuver support missions,” said Smith. “We truly are stronger together.”
Smith also thanked Lt. Gen. Alexander Sollfrank (DEU) for his leadership at NATO’s Joint Support and Enabling Command and Maj. Gen. Gerald Funke, commander of the Bundeswehr Logistics Command.
“I am forever grateful for the bonds of friendship and the cooperation between our two commands that have allowed us to navigate new, innovative ways to sustain in this theater and push the limits of interoperability.”
In closing, Smith recognized 21st TSC’s non-commissioned officers as the “backbone of the Army,” and thanked all the members of Team 21. “There is nothing more rewarding than to see the Soldiers, the officers, the Department of Army civilians, our great local national workforce integrate with our allies and our partners in full pursuit, this objective [of deterring adversary aggression],” said Smith.
“Team 21 is a people first organization, and I am so proud to be a part of the positive impact you are making on the lives of citizens across the globe.”
In his first public address as 21st TSC Commander, Ragin thanked Smith and his mentors, including former 21st TSC Commander Lt. Gen. Chris Mohan, and committed to “pay it forward.”
“I look forward to providing great leadership, caring for our Soldiers and caring for our families, and really picking up the ball where Team Smith left off, and continue to press forward.”