By Barry R. NappJuly 13, 2012
In a time-honored Army tradition, one commander bid farewell and another was welcomed to his new organization-the U.S. Army Environmental Command-July 11, 2012, by Family, friends, Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians.
The ceremony took place at the recently renovated and historic Fort Sam Houston Theater on Fort Sam Houston, part of Joint Base San Antonio.
Outgoing commander Col. Scott D. Kimmell passed the guidon to Mr. Joe C. Capps, Executive Director to the Commanding General, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, who then transferred the guidon as well as responsibility of USAEC to the new commander, Col. Mark A. Lee.
Lee becomes the 18th commander of an organization founded almost 40 years ago. His previous assignment was as the G-5, chief of Plans and Exercises, III Corps & Fort Hood. Prior to that assignment, he graduated from the National War College.
The USAEC mission is to lead and support environmental programs that enable Soldiers to maximize training to enhance readiness, and establish and maintain viable environmental management systems and stewardship into the future.
Kimmell was praised by Capps, who predicted great things for USAEC as a result of his command tour during a critical transition period.
"This is a great day for USAEC and Army traditions," he said. "Two years ago, Col. Kimmell knew when he took command that this was not an ordinary mission and he would have significant challenges. He executed a massive organizational move from Maryland to Texas without missing a beat, sustaining military readiness and taking care of Soldiers and Families."
Capps then turned to the new commander and welcomed Lee and his Family.
"You are a proven leader, right for the job, and we're glad you and your Family are here in San Antonio," said Capps. "You'll do great things with this professional and dedicated USAEC Team already in place. Continue to support garrisons and big Army."
Kimmell had been the commander of USAEC since May 2010 and will join the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C., serving as the Deputy Director, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defense, Joint Requirements Office.
He was awarded the Legion of Merit prior to the change of command.
"Mark, I wish you and your Family the best," Kimmell said to Lee. "This is a great command, a great mission and a tremendous opportunity to lead an organization that impacts Soldiers and their Families throughout our Army. The command was challenging but always first-class."
The incoming commander then addressed the attendees.
"We're happy to be here. Liz and I look forward to serving with a great team of professionals and further enhancing the reputation of a proud and competent team," said Lee. "I'm excited to meet and serve with a command that exists to help the Army train Soldiers. And I've seen in just a short time, this organization protects the environment and saves the Army tens of millions of dollars. That is an amazing accomplishment."
Lee is a graduate of the Chemical Basic and Advanced Courses, Airborne School, Jumpmaster School, Technical Escort course, the Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies and the National War College. In addition to receiving a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Ind., Lee earned three Master's courses.
As Kimmell closed out the ceremony, he spoke directly to Team USAEC.
"It's always hard to say goodbye but especially hard today, because the strength of this command is the people who make it up," said Kimmell. "My job was easy. It was to ensure that experts like you had what you needed to do your job and folks all over the world are now saying how much AEC is helping them at each level. They trust you now and consider this organization the central technical support for environmental issues."
"You care about Soldiers and their Families," he said. "That's what makes you all the best. I am indebted to you for your professionalism and outstanding service to our Army and our country. On behalf of Kelly and our Family I thank you all for your service and support."