One day after relinquishing command of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), Maj. Gen. Edward M. Reeder, Jr. assumed command of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in an outdoor ceremony Aug. 16 on Fort Bragg, N.C.
Reeder has led U.S. Army special-operations Soldiers as commander of USASFC(A) at Fort Bragg and the Combined Forces Special Operations Command in Afghanistan. In those assignments, he said he couldn't have been more satisfied with the quality of the Soldiers selected, trained and educated by SWCS for his operational units.
With SWCS now under his leadership, that quality will not be compromised, Reeder pledged to the Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Military Information Support Operations commanders attending the ceremony.
"Army special-operations forces are asked to work deep in enemy territories, in small numbers, without overwhelming firepower, under the most difficult of conditions," Reeder said. "The weapons they use are their imaginations, guts and extensive experience."
"That education starts right here at the U.S. Army Special Operations Center of Excellence," Reeder said, referencing a recent designation granted to SWCS by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
SWCS, the arm of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command responsible for qualification, language and advanced training courses as well as special-operations doctrine and management, maintains its headquarters and many classroom courses at Fort Bragg, with field training units at Camp Mackall in Hoffman, N.C. and various advanced-skill courses across the country, such as combat diver training in Key West, Fla. and military free-fall training in Yuma, Ariz.
The command's outgoing leader, Maj. Gen. Bennet S. Sacolick, introduced Reeder as a brother, a mentor and the finest officer he'd ever known. Sacolick, who spent two years commanding SWCS and served as its deputy commanding general before that, will report to the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. to serve as its director of force management and development.
"We're a great country because we're a smart country," Sacolick said during the ceremony. "We have, indisputably, the finest universities on our planet, because our country places great value in our collective intellects. Why should our military be any different?."
"For our force to succeed, we must produce special operators who are highly trained in warrior skills, but more importantly properly educated," Sacolick said. Under his command, SWCS officially established the Special Warfare Education Group (Airborne) to emphasize education as a foundation to special-operations Soldiers' career-long development. The group's many programs include an associate's degree program for special-operations qualification course students and a master's degree partnership with the National Defense University for special-operations officers and NCOs.
"We educate our special operators to work with indigenous people in a culturally attuned manner that allows us to bridge language barriers, open lines of communication and connect with key political and military leaders in a way that is both immediate and lasting," Sacolick said. "When we invest in the minds of our Soldiers, we're rewarded with an ever-increasing return. Our mission at [SWCS] is to build a well-educated, character-based special operator."
Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, handed the SWCS colors from Sacolick to Reeder during the ceremony. In his official remarks, Cleveland said Reeder and his wife, Adrian, were the perfect command team to pick up at SWCS where the Sacolicks left off.
"[Reeder's] currency in combat as well as his experience in special warfare campaigning, the blending of [military information support operations] and civil affairs capabilities, building surrogate operations, intelligence activities, will be especially helpful in his work to create the special warfare operator of tomorrow," Cleveland said. "This unique and vital institution holds the three keys to our future success: assessing the right person into our regiments, rigorous training of those selected, and the proper education of our leaders so that they may excel in the complex and uncertain battlefields of the future."
Cleveland also noted that he, Reeder and Sacolick shared a common background.
"I know of no other SWCS or USASFC(A) change of command where all three officers served together as captains in the same battalion at the same time," Cleveland said. "Third Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in the mid-1980s appears to have been a good place to grow up."