FORT HOOD, Texas -- Mission readiness and taking care of Soldiers and their Families will remain the top priorities for III Corps and Fort Hood, the incoming Phantom Corps commander said following an assumption of command ceremony here, Dec. 20.
Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley assumed command of III Corps and Fort Hood during a 10 a.m. ceremony in front of the III Corps Headquarters.
III Corps and Fort Hood's previous commander, Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr. relinquished command Nov. 28 to Brig. Gen. James Richardson, who served as interim commanding general until Milley's nomination for the post was confirmed by the Senate.
Campbell now heads U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army in Heidelberg, Germany.
Milley, who was promoted to lieutenant general before the assumption of command ceremony, comes to Fort Hood from Fort Drum, N.Y., where he commanded the 10th Mountain Division. He relinquished command there Dec. 3.
"What a difference 17 days makes," Milley said, noting that a little more than two weeks ago, he was near the Canadian border commanding a light infantry division, and now, he was in Central Texas assuming command of the Army's only armored corps.
Commissioned as an armor officer in 1980, Milley has spent the bulk of his career in light infantry and Special Forces assignments. Commanding the Phantom Corps marks his first assignment overseeing an armored unit, but Milley already has respect for the tanks, Bradleys and AH-64 Apache helicopters, he said, adding that those platforms "bring a tremendous amount of combat power to a battlefield."
Gen. David Rodriguez, commanding general, Forces Command, who served as reviewing officer at the ceremony, acknowledged Milley and his Family as a special officer and a special Army Family.
"This officer is keenly aware of the mission, capabilities, reputation of this command and we're proud to add his name to the list of those commanders who have commanded since its initial activation in 1918," Rodriguez said.
In welcoming III Corps' new commander, Rodriguez cited Milley's combat experience and leadership abilities.
"General Milley is a proven combat leader, capable and worthy of the increased responsibility put on his shoulders today," the FORSCOM commander said. "He brings a wealth of experience and proven leadership to this corps and to this military community."
Milley's 32 years in some of the Army's most challenging assignments make him uniquely qualified for this command, Rodriguez said, adding that Milley has extensive experience and is one of the most seasoned combat leaders in the Army today.
Milley's deployments include Egypt, Panama, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Iraq.
This is Milley's first assignment at Fort Hood, but not the first time he has served with Fort Hood troops. As a brigade commander with the 10th Mtn. Div., Milley's brigade served under the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
Milley brings to the Phantom Command his reputation as a "superb Soldier, a splendid leader and a joint warfighter," Rodriguez said.
"(Milley) is also an expert at building teams and he has that innate ability to draw out the strengths of disparate forces and combine these strengths into a team and focus that team's efforts on mission accomplishment," Rodriguez said.
During his remarks, Milley took time to talk about the road ahead for III Corps, as well as to reflect on the corps' contributions in the past and recent conflicts.
"The amount of sacrifice and talent that is represented here is unbelievable," Milley said. "I will tell you that it is not going to end this year. Ahead of us is a tough fight."
Noting the corps' upcoming scheduled deployment to Afghanistan, Milley said the corps' Soldiers will continue to beat the enemies of this country as the Phantom Corps has done in the past.
"Although the location is different, it doesn't matter," Milley said. "The cause is the same and the mission is the same -- it is to defend freedom, to liberate the oppressed, it's to build a better peace."
In Afghanistan, III Corps will advise and assist Afghan National Security Forces to stand up and protect and defend their own people, he said.
"We will do that in a professional way," Milley said. "I have no doubt that the seasoned officers and noncommissioned officers and Soldiers of this corps are up to the task."
As the Corps' Soldiers prepare for deployment, Milley stressed that Soldier and Family support also remain a priority.
"It is the Families... who've had to bear the heaviest burden during the last 12 years," Milley said. "It is you who have given III Corps the strength to overcome all of the obstacles on every deployment."
He also credited the community for the support given the installation. It is support the Milley Family has already seen. At the time of the ceremony, Milley had only been on Fort Hood for four days, but he said he and his Family knew they were members of the Fort Hood Family immediately from the warmth and support they have already received.
"That is a reassuring thought for a guy like me," he said.
III Corps' new commanding general said the support from the community and veterans help make Fort Hood what it is.
"This is not the Great Place," Milley said. "This is the greatest place."