News: 311th ESC Logistics Warriors gain new leadership
By Army Sgt. Scott Akanewich
79th SSC Public Affairs
LOS ANGELES – Soldiers of the 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) officially received new leadership during change of command and change of responsibility ceremonies at Holderman Hall, United States Army Reserve Center in Los Angeles, March 3.
The 311th ESC is a one-star Army Reserve command with approximately 6,500 Warrior-citizens serving within subordinate units located in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado. The 311th is currently scheduled to deploy to Southwest Asia in the next 12 months to assume command-and-control of logistical operations for theater-wide support.
The new commander, who will see the 311th through its deployment, is Brig. Gen. Therese M. O’Brien. Of the 20 preceding commanders, O’Brien now becomes the first female general officer to serve in the unit since it was established in 1950 and is extremely humbled to be bestowed with that honor, she said.
To symbolize the command changing hands, a ceremonial passing of the unit colors is conducted. Traditionally, the organizational colors represent the history and achievements of a unit, as well as serving as a foundation for future accomplishments. Historically, the colors served as a rally point on the battlefield where soldiers would gather before moving into combat. The colors always remained at the commander’s side and were carried onward even if the commander was felled in battle.
Maj. Gen. William D. Frink, 79th Sustainment Support Command, commanding general, had kind words for both the outgoing and incoming commands.
“As I stand here, I couldn’t be more proud of the 311th ESC,” said Frink. “They are ready and relevant for today’s global conflict.”
Brig. Gen. Juan Ruiz, 311th outgoing commanding general, handed over the reins of command to O’Brien.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to lead the soldiers of the 311th for the past 18 months,” said Ruiz. “I’m confident they will remain on the cutting edge.”
Ruiz emphasized the gratification he’s garnered during his command time, particularly in regards to the 311th’s ability to conduct real-world missions in the Far East, he said.
“I’m most proud of our efforts in the Republic of Korea and the Pacific,” said Ruiz. “We’ve established the means to conduct full-spectrum operations as far as disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.”
O’Brien showed a great deal of humility in taking her new position.
“I’m humbled for the opportunity to serve with you,” said O’Brien, before a sun-splashed gathering of soldiers. “It never ceases to amaze me how Reservists step up and put themselves in harm’s way for their country.”
O’Brien also emphasized the overall dynamic of the Army and the role it plays in producing a more cohesive, effective fighting force, as described by Frink.
“The strength of our Nation is our Army, the strength of our Army is our soldiers and the strength of our soldiers is our families," she said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ted Copeland, incoming command sergeant major, took the colors from Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Capps, 311th ESC, outgoing command sergeant major. As the unit’s senior enlisted adviser, the command sergeant major is responsible for the welfare, accountability and training of all enlisted soldiers.
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Roberson, 79th SSC, command sergeant major, praised Capps, outgoing 311th command sergeant major, for his accomplishments while with the unit.
“He was charged with improving the foxhole and he’s done exactly that,” said Roberson.
As for Copeland, who also comes from an MP background, he acknowledged the challenges that are before him.
“Now, I’m a logistics Warrior and I have much to learn,” said Copeland. “However, Command Sgt. Maj. Capps has done a great job setting me up for success.”
Order and discipline are standard for such events, however, there is definitely a human element involved, which is forged from long hours of training and camaraderie.
“In a way, I feel like I’m leaving a family behind,” said Capps. “Don’t forget me and I won’t forget you.”