News: JTF GTMO under new command
Story by Sgt. Kenneth Tucceri
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - “After I took command last July, it did not take me long to realize that this detention effort is really an all-hands effort by everyone on the island. Your commitment is inspiring,” said Navy Rear Adm. Richard Butler, Joint Task Force Guantanamo’s outgoing commander.
JTF GTMO held a change of command ceremony to officially appoint Navy Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad as JTF’s new commander Thursday, July 10 at GTMO’s Windjammer Ballroom.
The event, which filled the ballroom with Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen featured speeches from Marine Gen. John Kelly, U.S. Southern Command’s commander, Butler and Cozad.
Cozad, a native of Las Vegas, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985. His naval service spans all four Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft sites. Additionally, he served in the White House where, in his final year there, he was senior director of the White House Situation Room. Most recently, he served as vice deputy director, Regional Force Management and Future Operations (J-35), with the Joint Staff in Norfolk, Virginia.
“Rhett, you leave behind an incredible legacy and some huge shoes to fill,” said Cozad. “Thanks for the insightful turnover, your incredible professionalism and, on a personal note, for the gracious hosting that you and Lana have leaned into over the past month. It’s been great getting to know you … and I look forward to continuing our friendship in the future.”
Both Butler and Cozad touched on the support their spouses, Lana Butler and Amy Cozad, had on their extensive careers.
“Like many military spouses, Amy serves this great nation and our military with every ounce of her energy in not only supporting my career, but also the service men, women and their families alongside with who we serve,” said Cozad.
Kelly’s remarks touched on his pride in Butler’s year as JTF’s commander, his confidence in Cozad’s leadership and “the most important people here … the men and women that are the joint force at Guantanamo Bay.”
“Loyalty. Duty. Respect. Selfless Service. Honor. Integrity. Personal Courage. These are the truths you all follow here at JTF GTMO,” said Kelly. “It is who you are. I have commanded troops all over the world, in every clime and place in my career. I have never been prouder of any than I have commanded that I am of you. For your decency, for your approach to duties, ... for your long suffering dedication to a tough but critically important mission; I know Rhett Butler shares this pride, and I also know our president and secretary are proud as well.”
Butler concluded his speech with parting words for those in the crowd that remain tasked to continue with JTF’s operations.
“You should know your work here is critical to the future of the JTF mission and to our national security,” said Butler. “I am confident you will continue to do an outstanding job. You have the gratitude and respect of the entire chain of command for your service and for the sacrifice of your families. I thank you for raising your hand to volunteer to serve your country, and I’m proud to have served with all of you here. You carry out JTF GTMO’s mission of safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of the detainees. Your gallantry and courage stirs the souls of Americans. Your pride and patriotism is deeply felt and through your valor and sacrifice, our country remains strong and free … While it is bittersweet to be moving on after only one year, I know Rear Adm. Cozad will do all that needs to be done to keep JTF’s commitment to defend freedom. Thank you and honor bound!”