U.S. Army Garrison Okinawa gains new commander

By Tim Flack, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsJuly 2, 2023

U.S. Army Garrison Okinawa gains new commander
Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson, center, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hands the USAG Okinawa unit colors to incoming Commander Lt. Col. Rachel R. Bowers, left, as outgoing Commander Lt. Col. Ryan S. Gladding looks on during a change-of-command ceremony held June 30 at Torii Station, Okinawa. (Photo Credit: Ichiro Tokashiki) VIEW ORIGINAL

TORII STATION, Okinawa – The new commander of U.S. Army Garrison Okinawa officially took on her role during a ceremony held here Friday.

The USAG Okinawa team and members of the Torii Station community welcomed incoming USAG Okinawa Commander Lt. Col. Rachel R. Bowers and bid farewell to the outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Ryan S. Gladding, during the morning ceremony held at the Coral Cove ballroom.

During her remarks, Bowers said she was excited to join the Installation Management Command team, and thanked her husband, Joe; their children, Skylar, Oryanna, Toryan and Alyta; and her mother, Joyce, for their amazing support.

She also thanked Gladding for assisting with her transition to command.

“Lieutenant Colonel Gladding, thank you for all you have done and will continue to do for Torii Station and the U.S. Army Soldiers, civilians and family members throughout Okinawa,” she said. “I could not have asked for a smoother transition or better officer to follow.”

She also said how impressed she’s already been with the Garrison team.

“I look forward to leading the team and working together to enable readiness, guided by Army values, through world-class service and support to the people of Torii Station and the greater Okinawa community,” she said.

Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson, U.S. Army Garrison Japan commander, traveled from Camp Zama, Japan, to host the ceremony. He welcomed Bowers and her family to the Garrison, saying he was confident Bowers would embrace the challenge of serving as the Garrison commander.

“Your years of service in the military police corps—and your focus on people—have undoubtedly prepared you for this next challenge,” Tomlinson said. “I have no doubt you are going to do an exceptional job here. You’re joining an exceptional organization … a great garrison family.”

During his final speech to the Garrison, Gladding thanked his “Garrison Okinawa family.”

“I am awe of what this team does every day,” Gladding said. He thanked multiple members of the team, highlighting their specific accomplishments, from responding to real-world emergencies to addressing higher-headquarters inspections, from ensuring the Garrison’s infrastructure will withstand the test of time to improving the family and Soldiers support programs.

He thanked his former and current senior enlisted advisers, Command Sgts. Maj. Kalani Kalili and TaJuana Nixon.

“You are the reason our (noncommissioned officer) corps is the envy of our allies and the nightmare of our enemies,” Gladding said.

He also recognized his deputy, Richard Bain, for being “the right person at the right time.”

“Thank you for bringing your expertise and applying it to some of the garrison’s most challenging problems,” he said.

Gladding’s parents, Ed and Phyllis, attended the ceremony, and Gladding thanked them for “instilling your best qualities in me.”

“I am proud to be your son and elated to share this moment with you here today,” he said.

Gladding also had a special message for his wife, Amber, and their son, Hunter.

“Thank you for your steadfast support,” he said. “I will always cherish the memories we made here on Okinawa and I look forward to all our future adventures.”

Tomlinson thanked Gladding and his family for their “service to our community here at Torii Station.”

The USAG Japan commander said Gladding hit the ground running two years ago upon taking command, and quickly developed strong relationships with his staff, tenant unit leadership, the joint military community on Okinawa, and his off-post partners and community leaders.

“These efforts ensured the Garrison was postured to positively affect the readiness and power-projection capabilities of all Army forces on Okinawa at this most critical point in the Indo-Pacific,” Tomlinson said.

He said Gladding’s leadership of the dynamic, multifunctional and geographically isolated Garrison positively impacted the life, health, safety and morale of the Soldiers, civilians and families of his community.

Tomlinson also thanked Gladding for focusing on strengthening the Garrison’s relationship with the local Okinawa host communities.

“The strong bond forged between our communities has grown stronger through your leadership, and it is a testament to your dedication, professionalism and genuine care for fostering international relationships,” he said.

Tomlinson said Gladding’s experience as the Garrison commander will be of enormous value as he transitions into his new role with the 10th Support Group on Torii Station.

Gladding said he could sum up everything he learned about Garrison leadership in the last two years with one word: Readiness.

“Through all the efforts of the people and organizations I mentioned … this garrison has drastically improved the readiness posture of United States Army Soldiers in the priority theater,” he said. “I am truly humbled to be a small part of that legacy, and to call myself an alumni of the United States Army Garrison Okinawa.”