The U.S. Army Engineer School welcomed Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle Jr. during an assumption of commandant ceremony held Tuesday morning on Fort Leonard Wood‘s Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Plaza.
Whittle, who was previously the deputy commander for the 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas, is the school’s 97th commandant. He assumed the responsibilities from Col. Kevin Brown, who was the interim commandant.
The ceremony was presided over by Maj. Gen. Kent Savre, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, who thanked Brown for bridging the gap and making the transition seamless.
“For the past three months, the engineer school hasn’t missed a beat thanks to the teamwork of multiple senior leaders,” Savre said. “And thanks to Col. Kevin Brown, who really stepped up as interim commandant, providing continuity and direction.”
Savre said the future is bright for the Engineer Regiment under the leadership of Whittle.
“Brig. Gen. Bob Whittle is the exact right leader to posture this regiment for the unknown and complex challenges that lie ahead,” Savre said. “Challenges like the ongoing Hurricane Harvey and Irma disaster response and recovery operations in the homeland, or the continuing development of infrastructure and essential services required to help achieve stability in the Middle East or providing maneuver commanders with trained and ready combat engineer formations.”
Savre went on to say Whittle possesses the experience, vision, judgment, inspiration and commitment to drive positive change.
Whittle began by saying he couldn’t be more proud to be a combat engineer and referenced his first visit to Fort Leonard Wood.
“It’s great to be back,” Whittle said. “I was in one of the first Officer Basic courses here at the Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood. It’s been 27 years since the Engineer School moved to Fort Leonard Wood, and I first came here shortly after graduation from West Point in 1990.”
The new commandant shared a special message with the regiment.
“I’ve seen maneuver commanders ask when they are confronted with a problem …’Who can solve a complex issue? Who can provide the right recommendations to restore mobility to the battlefield?’ The maneuver commander asks, ‘Where is my engineer?'”
Whittle explained further.
“Where others have tried, and failed, the Engineer Regiment has said, ‘Essayons,’ and succeeded,” he said. “We built the Pentagon in 18 months. When others failed, we took over and completed the Panama Canal. We have shaped the battlefield for combined arms teams over and over again. Indeed, the very connotation of the word Essayons has changed, from let us try … to, we will succeed.”
He concluded by saying he is confident the regiment will be ready to step up to the plate when the call comes and engineers will succeed.