By VINCE LITTLEJune 20, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (June 20, 2012) -- The Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning welcomed a new leader Wednesday.
After formally receiving his second star, Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster succeeded Maj. Gen. Robert Brown during a change of command ceremony at the National Infantry Museum's Soldier Field. McMaster takes over as the installation's 53rd commanding general and third to lead the MCoE.
He arrives from Afghanistan, where he was commander of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-Shafafiyat, part of the International Security Assistance Force. Brown will be promoted to lieutenant general and assume the role of commanding general at I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., this summer.
"The Army is so adept at leader development that they've picked the perfect team with H.R.," said Lt. Gen. David Halverson, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's deputy commanding general and chief of staff. "You are going to take this great command to next-highest level. Your passion, warfighting skills, vision and intellect will give you the skills you need to handle the diverse, complex issues that we face. We have great trust and confidence in what you are going to do."
McMaster is a 1984 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and taught history there from 1994 to 1996. He also holds a Master of Arts and doctorate in American History from the University of North Carolina.
He has served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, working as an adviser and on the staffs of Lt. Gen. John Abizaid at Central Command and Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq. The Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient led E Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, while significantly outnumbered in a tank battle during the Gulf War.
"It's a great privilege to join the team here at the Maneuver Center and Fort Benning -- it's exciting," the new commanding general said. "You can't help but draw energy from our Soldiers, our leaders and our great civilians who are really at the heart of developing our Army's combat effectiveness for the fights of today and the fights of tomorrow."
McMaster is the author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam, as well as articles on history and national security in various newspapers, magazines and professional journals.
He said his top priorities include maintaining the momentum begun by Brown on initiatives such as Brigade Combat Team 2020, "Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force," and the human dimension of combat as it relates to leader development and the cognitive domain.
"The potential here at Fort Benning is unbelievable. It's already being realized based on the two schools collocating," he said. "It all happens here. … This is the perfect place for our Army to bring all that combat experience together and institutionalize those changes to make us even better.
"We have to adapt faster than our enemies -- the way to do that is to have a good bridge between our operating and deployed forces and our institutional Army. Fort Benning is where that bridge is the strongest. … It's also one of those places that connects our Army to the American people. I'm just blown away by how great this community is."
Brown, meanwhile, became the MCoE commander in November 2010. He was responsible for managing the historic Infantry-Armor consolidation here and ensuring all Base Realignment and Closure objectives were met by last September's deadline.
Halverson lauded Brown's energy, spirit and commitment to excellence.
"Bob is all about teamwork," Halverson said. "In this whole transformation of bringing the Maneuver Center of Excellence together, he understood about the unique aspect of teams and what it's all about, what each unique person brings to the thing. … It's about forming this team that met the challenges of a nation at war and how we transform for 2020. You can feel the energy that he brought to this community because that is what a good commander brings. … He brought an unbelievable presence to Fort Benning."
Brown said he was proud to be a part of that group -- both at the Maneuver Center and in the Chattahoochee Valley. Before leading the audience in a rendition of God Bless America, the outgoing commander praised the selection of McMaster, saying he couldn't have "handpicked" a more suitable successor.
"He's a heckuva warrior and incredible scholar," Brown said. "This is an amazing new command team."