FORT EUSTIS, Va. — Gen. Stephen J. Townsend assumed command of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command from Gen. David G. Perkins during a ceremony on Fort Eustis, Virginia, March 2.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, who hosted the ceremony, said it was a great but bittersweet day as the command bid farewell to Perkins and welcomed Townsend as TRADOC’s 16th commanding general.
However, the day was not about either of the generals, Milley continued, explaining that the focus was on celebrating the accomplishments of the command and how TRADOC continues to shape the Army.
“This day is not so much about Dave Perkins or Steve Townsend,” Milley said. “This day is really about the tremendous and great work that Training and Doctrine Command does.”
The 39th chief of staff of the Army said that the United States Army is, without question, the most powerful Army on the face of the earth, and it’s in good hands not only because of the work of thousands of people over many years, but also directly because of the work of TRADOC since 1973.
“The people and the Soldiers – the officers and all of the civilians who work in TRADOC – the Army would not be what it is without your legacy … There’s not a single Soldier who does not come in – or go out – of the Army without touching Training and Doctrine Command.”
Milley also discussed the command’s history and the fact that no other command in the Army has a portfolio as wide, as complex or as deep as TRADOC.
“Everyone in this room is a product of what this command did in the 1970s and ‘80s to reform the United States Army,” Milley said. “They didn’t do it alone – they did it in conjunction with Army Materiel Command and Forces Command and Army leadership. But it was this command that drove that reform, it was this command that increased the readiness and changed us from that post-Vietnam Army into the Army that you see today.”
Milley then shifted to Perkins’ leadership of TRADOC during the past four years, and how he has helped shaped how the Army will fight and win in the future through the Multi-Domain Battle concept. But TRADOC’s greatest contribution to the Army, Milley said, is the training of its Soldiers.
“TRADOC recruits and accesses 120,000 Soldiers every year,” Milley said. “Think about that. That number is larger than the British, Canadian and Australian armies combined. That number is 75 percent of the entire Marine Corps.”
Milley then thanked Perkins and his family for their contributions to the Army and the nation. The former TRADOC commander will retire in ceremony March 9 in Washington, D.C.
In welcoming TRADOC’s incoming commanding general, Milley said the command is very lucky to have Townsend, a man of tremendous talent and great character.
“This is a guy who has incredible competence, he’s got tremendous intellect, and he’s got extraordinary experience,” Milley said. “I have no doubt that he is going to take TRADOC to the next level.”
Commissioned into the infantry branch from North Georgia College in 1982, Townsend has led and commanded Soldiers at every echelon, from platoon to corps and combined joint task force. His most recent assignment was commanding XVIII Airborne Corps, the U.S. Army’s rapid deployment contingency corps and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. From August 2016 to September 2017, he commanded Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, during which time the U.S.-led coalition assisted the Iraqis in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in their strongholds of Mosul and Tal Afar.
“What a great Army day,” Townsend said as he took the podium for his first remarks as TRADOC’s commanding general.
“To the leaders and Soldiers of TRADOC – Melissa and I are excited to join your ranks, and thank you for the warm welcome and superb transition I’ve had so far,” he said. “We look forward to serving with you and accomplishing TRADOC’s important mission.
“To the leaders and Soldiers of the United States Army – TRADOC is the Army’s architect, builder and teacher. I promise you that you can count on us to continue to do our part to ensure the U.S. Army remains the premier, full-spectrum land force in the world – both now, and in the future.
“This we’ll defend – victory starts here.”
Pictured above: U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley passes the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command colors to Gen. Stephen J. Townsend during the change of command ceremony at Fort Eustis, Virginia, March 2, 2018. Townsend assumed command from Gen. David G.Perkins, who is retiring March 9 from the Army after 38 years of service. (U.S. Army photo by Christopher Thompson)
Watch the full ceremony here.