NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — With all the pomp and circumstance expected of such a high-profile event, Joint Task Force Guantanamo welcomed aboard Rear Adm. Richard W. Butler as the new commander of JTF-GTMO, during a change of command ceremony July 16, bidding farewell to Rear Adm. John W. Smith Jr.
“People here are doing a noble job in difficult conditions,” said Butler. “They face legal and public scrutiny for every action and allegation and accept the challenge. Now I have the privilege of being their leader. To the men and women of JTF-GTMO, I hold myself accountable to you also.”
Butler acknowledged his personal responsibility to the JTF Troopers and promised to uphold the seven Army values: leadership, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage in the fulfillment of his duties as JTF commander.
Butler, and his wife, Lana, arrived at GTMO last week, from his previous assignment at the Pentagon. He has toured facilities, received briefings and turnover tutorials to prepare him for his new responsibilities. Responsibilities that Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of United States Southern Command, outlined during the ceremony.
“You provide central support to intelligence, legal, medical, security and public affairs operations all within the pressure cooker of intense, international scrutiny,” said Kelly. “Despite all this, you are the essence of professionalism who have made detention operations here at Guantanamo recognized as the model around the world.”
Rich with tradition, the ceremony also included a farewell speech by Rear Adm. John W. Smith, outgoing JTF-GTMO commander.
“I had a great team at Joint Task Force; they always exceeded my expectations. I am proud to have been your commander,” Smith said.
Smith’s next assignment will take him and his wife, Maple, to Norfolk Va., where he will be named Commandant of the Joint Forces Staff College.