HONOLULU -- Soldiers, staff, family members and government civilians, along with local leaders, gathered at Tripler Army Medical Center, Oct. 4, to bid "a hui hou" to Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher, outgoing commander of Pacific Regional Medical Command and TAMC, and to welcome the incoming commander, Col. J. Anson Smith.

Gallagher has commanded PRMC and Tripler since May 25, 2010, and under his command the Pacific region has led the way for U.S. Army Medical Command in numerous initiatives.

"Brig. Gen. Gallagher's visions recognized that the future success of military medicine and the optimal health of our force and our families would only be assured through partnerships that improved the business and health care, the administration of health and the transformation to a system of health," said Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, U.S. Army Surgeon General and commander, U.S. Army Medical Command. "Few leaders have taken on as many difficult positions and critical leadership roles as (Brig. Gen.) Gallagher … (his) dedication and leadership skills have improved the lives of our Soldiers, civilians, patients and families."

He ensured the delivery of world class primary and specialty care for thousands of service members, their families and veterans and Pacific Islanders in the Pacific region's area of responsibility.

Gallagher has been recognized by senior government officials for the efficiency of the Integrative Disability Evaluation System processes at Tripler, which is a single set of disability medical examinations appropriate for determining both fitness and disability.

During his tenure, the interdisciplinary pain management center has expanded its role integrating Eastern and Western medicine, thus decreasing the use of controlled substances.

Gallagher is also responsible for establishing the Warrior Ohana Medical Home, an outpatient clinic in Kapolei (responsible) for decreasing traffic from the leeward side of the island.

In addition, supporting the Army Surgeon General's wellness initiative, Gallagher urged his staff to focus on a system of health versus a health care system.

As Gallagher and his wife retire after 34 years of service to the Army, Gallagher said he is confident that Smith is a great choice for the command because they have spent the last two years side-by-side.

"I have been honored to serve you here in the Pacific and at Tripler Army Medical Center," Gallagher said. "(Col. Smith), welcome to the fast lane. You are indeed the right leader for this job. You are a hard working colonel who has been at my side the entire time I have been here. I know you will continue the momentum that has brought many successes to this region."

Smith, who has more than 25 years of experience in the Army, is no newcomer to Hawaii. He served in the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks from 2002-2005 as the division's medical operations chief.

Smith said he was happy about the opportunity to return to Hawaii, but never imagined he would have the honor of commanding the region. He pledged his commitment to the missions in the region and promised to continue the numerous health care initiatives taking place here.

"This great command will continue to be the tip of the spear for Army Medicine and the Pacific," Smith said. "Brig. Gen. Gallagher, I pledge to continue your great legacy in PRMC and Tripler. Your legacy will live on here in the form of discipline, mentally tough, technically competent, fiscally sound, caring medical professions with a reputation for service and excellence."