FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. (July 13, 2010) - The first of many Soldiers and Civilian staff members of the Army's largest command gathered today at their headquarters to mark the official start of U.S. Army Forces Command's relocation to Fort Bragg, N.C.

Dubbed the "Torch Party" departure ceremony, the event included hundreds of FORSCOM staffers, who assembled to recognize 13 members of the first wave of their fellow headquarters personnel departing for North Carolina.

These initial "torchbearers" will be joined at Fort Bragg by 37 other FORSCOM staff members from Fort McPherson as they plant the Command's forward element's guidon at the Old Bowley School on Fort Bragg. The mission of the 50-member Torch Party is to begin preparations for the arrival of hundreds with the FORSCOM Advance Echelon to Bragg in October.

"We are going to do the hardest of all hard: relocate, sustain ongoing operations, (and) operate from multiple lanes, during a time of war," said Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond, FORSCOM's chief of staff, who hosted the ceremony. Hammond assured the assembled staff that he believes FORSCOM is up to the task. "We are good at what we do. We are probably great at what we do," he said. "Everyone here has a vote each day; you choose how you feel, and you choose what comes out of your mouth. It's my observation (that) the way you approach it makes us great, and we're going to continue to be great as we work our way through this," he said.

"What we are about to do is critically important; we've got to do it right, and we've got to do it well," Hammond said. He then presented each of the departing staff members with a framed certificate, designating them "torchbearers."

"The Torch Party will work hard to set conditions at Fort Bragg for a successful relocation for every staff member who moves with the (FORSCOM) team," said Ronna Rowe Garrett, FORSCOM G-1 Human Resources director and a torchbearer who will be the officer-in-charge of FORSCOM-Forward. During her remarks, she emphasized the importance of the forward element to the overall relocation effort.

Hammond passed the FORSCOM-Forward Guidon - symbolizing the start of the relocation of the people of FORSCOM Headquarters - to Garrett, who in turn passed it to Sgt. Maj. Joseph C. Harris, who will be the forward element's sergeant major at Bragg. Garrett will transport the guidon to Fort Bragg, where it will be displayed outside the A-Wing of the Old Bowley School, demonstrating that FORSCOM's headquarters relocation has begun.

"Our greatest treasure is our human capital," Garrett said. "We are one team. We have one future. God bless Forces Command, and I look forward to seeing you all in Carolina country."

The members of the Torch Party will begin operations at Bragg in August.

Also during the ceremony, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Regional Task Force Director Greg Taylor extended a welcome to all relocating members of FORSCOM. "On behalf of the board of directors of the BRAC Regional Task Force as well as the citizens, community leaders and elected officials of our 11-county region, please know that we appreciate your dedication, your service and your sacrifice on behalf of our nation. And, it will indeed be our privilege to welcome you and your families to North Carolina," Taylor said. "On behalf of your new neighbors, welcome to North Carolina. You are coming to an area where the people believe in you. We believe in what you do; we believe in what you stand for, and we believe in your mission," he said.

The 40th Army Band, an Army National Guard unit from Camp Johnson in Colchester, Vermont, provided traditional music for the ceremony. The 40th is currently at Fort McPherson for its two weeks of annual training.

As of April 1, more than 99 percent of the FORSCOM civilian workforce had responded to the Transfer of Function notices. Currently, FORSCOM leaders are tracking an 85-percent acceptance rate for the staff members moving to Fort Bragg.

Under the provisions of the Base Realignment and Closure legislation of 2005, Fort McPherson, Ga., must close no later than Sept. 15, 2011. Both FORSCOM and the headquarters of U.S. Army Reserve Command will relocate to Fort Bragg as a result.

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For more information about FORSCOM or its relocation to Fort Bragg, contact the public affairs office at 404-464-6381.