News: Army Reserve's most deployed force gets new commander
Story by Staff Sgt. Amanda Smolinski
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - As fall arrived, so did a new season of leadership for U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne). Maj. Gen. David N. Blackledge relinquished command to Maj. Gen. Jeffrey A. Jacobs here Oct. 23, 2011.
Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the U.S. Army Reserve and commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, presided over the ceremony as Blackledge passed the unit colors to Jacobs symbolizing the change of command.
Stultz described Jacobs as a “well-known entity within the CA community.”
Jacobs completed his assignment as commander of Contingency Command Post 2, United States Army North (Fifth Army) at Fort Sam Houston - a command and control element responsible for rapid deployment to natural disasters and emergencies in North America before assuming command of USACAPOC(A).
“He is a proven leader, he is the right man for the job, that is why he was hand selected for this command,” said Stultz.
Jacobs assumed command of nearly 12,000 soldiers in 67 units across 30 states and Puerto Rico. “There is no better job for an officer than being a commander,” said Jacobs.
USACAPOC(A) is five percent of the U.S. Army Reserve Command’s force and is responsible for 20 percent of the Army Reserve deployments. USACAPOC(A) is home to 94 percent of the Department of Defense’s CA capability and 71 percent of the DoD’s military information support operations capability. Since 2001, USACAPOC(A) has mobilized and deployed more than 20,000 soldiers to 14 countries in support of the war on terror and assisting in humanitarian actions.
Since assuming command in 2009, Blackledge described the changes within USACAPOC(A).
“The unit has grown by more than 1,000 soldiers, activated, relocated, converted or re-aligned 66 CAPOC units, expanded educational opportunities for our soldiers including the creation and credentialing of a course at the Naval Post Graduate School, filled 178 separate requests for CAPOC support within Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn and various other contingency operations throughout the world and reached 114 percent of retention goals.”
Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1979, Jacobs served seven years on active duty before joining the Army Reserves. Since his commission, Jacobs has served in Bosnia, Haiti and as the commander of the 354th Civil Affairs Brigade in Baghdad, Iraq. Most recently, he served as the commanding general of the 350th Civil Affairs Command, headquartered in Pensacola, Fla. He is decorated with the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Medal, earned the Ranger Tab.
Jacobs describes his intent as a commander to be “focused like a laser beam on a mission to provide trained and ready, disciplined and professional units and soldiers to the Army upon and combatant commanders.”
Jacobs also mentioned that the command will provide support to the soldiers’ families and quoted Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of staff of the United States Army, saying the “strength of our soldiers is our families.”
Following the ceremonial passing of the colors, Stultz described the resistance he felt as he took the colors out of Blackledge’s hands and the significance of the approximate 3,000 [USACAPOC(A)] soldiers that are deployed around the world: "[This] didn’t occur in spite of him, but it occurred because of him due to his leadership, dedication, vision, and guidance. It is because of his leadership that this command is the way it is today.”
Among many achievements, Blackledge also helped to reduce the social stigma associated with soldiers seeking mental health treatment from war-related stress after being seriously injured in action in both 2004 and again in 2005.
Blackledge added in his speech, following a national announcement made by President Obama this week that, today, the last of the civil affairs soldiers will redeploy from Iraq, and next week, the bulk of the PSYOP forces will also redeploy from Iraq.
“I am so very proud of all of you, you have done a remarkable job to this nation,” said Blackledge. “It has been a privilege to lead you, to serve with you and fight with you.”
Blackledge has accepted the position with the United States Army Reserve Command where he will work Civil Affairs proponency matters until his retirement sometime next summer.
“I wish Maj. Gen. Blackledge the best of luck; he will be a hard act to follow,” said Jacobs.