CAMP ZAMA, Japan (July 21, 2012) -- Command Sgt. Maj. Katrina M. Najee assumed responsibility as the senior noncommissioned officer of U.S. Army Garrison Japan during a ceremony held July 20 at the Music Theater Workshop here.

Najee took over for outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Scarlett I. Stabel, who relinquished the position after having served in it since April 2009.

The ceremony included the traditional passing of the USAG-J guidon from Stabel to Col. Eric D. Tilley, the unit's commander, who then passed it to Najee, officially recognizing her as the new command sergeant major.

During her remarks, Najee expressed to the more than 100 Soldiers, community members, Japanese civilian employees, and other guests in attendance that she was honored to have received the opportunity to serve in her new position.

"Japan is enriched with honor and courage, and I cannot wait to be part of the family that you all have built here," said Najee. "I look forward to serving alongside my commander ... and continuing the legacy to our mission and community, and the Soldiers, families and civilians who make this installation what it is today."

Najee brings to Japan "a level of experience and diversity that will benefit [the] community tremendously," Tilley said, praising his new command sergeant major.

"As you are well aware, this command will be extremely challenging, yet very rewarding," Tilley added. "It is a responsibility that I know you will assume with dedication and diligence, and we are excited to have you aboard."

During her past three years in Japan, Stabel said she had a number of experiences in her role as USAG-J's command sergeant major that were "challenging, rewarding and humbling." Perhaps the most significant among these was the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck northeast Japan in March 2011, and the U.S. and Japanese military-led relief and rebuilding effort that followed, "Operation Tomodachi."

"I have grown tremendously from these experiences, both on a professional and personal level," said Stabel. "There is not one day that went by that I did not learn something new."

Stabel concluded by thanking the entire community for working together with her to help accomplish the garrison's mission on a daily basis, but most of all for their friendship and for making her tenure here enjoyable.

"I'm a person who has to be at home, and I very much felt at home in United States Army Japan and our beautiful host nation," said Stabel. "It has been an honor and privilege to serve as your command sergeant major."

Tilley praised his outgoing command sergeant major for her dedication and knowledge in all the areas required of a senior NCO, saying Stabel "worked tirelessly, with a single focus and purpose ... to take care of the service members, families and civilians [here], and to improve their quality of life."

"You have done [your job] with a style and a flair that is definitely all your own; with you, not only did they break the mold, they shattered and pulverized it," Tilley said, addressing Stabel. "On behalf of the entire garrison, the tenant military and civilian organizations, and our host nation community, I thank you for your professionalism and your dedication."

Najee enlisted in the Army in 1986. She has been deployed four times in her career, with two different divisions. Her previous assignments include Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Korea; Germany; Fort Lee, Va.; and her most recent assignment at Fort Campbell, Ky., where she served as the command sergeant major of the 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. She is married to Nadir Melrose Najee, and they have one daughter, Endasia.

Stabel was born, raised and educated in Germany, and enlisted in the Army in 1985. She deployed to Kuwait in 2007 as part of the Battalion Staff of Logistics Task Force 10. Her previous assignments include Fort Hood, Texas; Vilseck and Kaiserslautern, Germany; and Korea. Her next assignment is Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where she will serve as an instructor at the Command and General Staff College there. She has three daughters -- Kim, La'Kisha and Jamila -- who each serve in the Army Reserve, Air Force and Navy, respectively.