By Staff Sgt. Jacob A. McDonald
50th Public Affairs Detachment
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Patton's Own said farewell to Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb, Dec. 18, in a change of command ceremony on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, when he relinquished command of Third Army/U.S. Army Central to Lt. Gen. James J. Lovelace.
After the passing of the colors Adm. William J. Fallon, commander, U.S. Central Command, spoke to the audience at Camp Arifjan and to the Family members and staff assembled in Fort McPherson, Ga., watching via a live satellite feed.
"I wanted the opportunity to be here in person to let you know how important this command is to me personally, but most importantly to our country and the effort that we have underway," Fallon said. "This is really about two things, one to let all those present and observing know there has been a change of leadership, but just as importantly to let them know the mission will continue to carry on in the capable hands of Jim Lovelace."
Fallon then thanked Whitcomb for his service, support, vision, direction and leadership in accomplishing the Third Army mission in the Central Command area of operations. Fallon also welcomed Lovelace and expressed his confidence in the incoming commander's abilities and experience.
Upon the conclusion of Fallon's remarks Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, commented on the capabilities of the outgoing and incoming commanders. He said both commanders are superb leaders who have done, and continue to do great things. He then spoke to the Soldiers of Third Army, thanking them for their service.
"You continue to reflect the best of our nation," Casey said. "Your performance has been tremendous as you and your fellow Soldiers continue to make a difference in our fight against terror."
In his remarks, Whitcomb expressed thanks to his staff, the Third Army Soldiers, civilians and local dignitaries he worked with during his tenure as the Third Army commander. Whitcomb also spoke some words in Arabic to the Kuwaiti leadership in attendance at the ceremony.
"I am not going to recount troops, trucks and trips, because for most people it really is inconceivable what this nation can do, the United States of America, this military and certainly what Third Army and ARCENT has done," Whitcomb said.
Speaking to the troops he expressed his appreciation of their service while under his command.
"I did not want combat commanders in Iraq or Afghanistan to divert their attention to our business," Whitcomb said. "Day in and day out you met that objective and more. Today we ask a great deal from our men and women. They are our nation's boots on the ground making sure our national policies, and our coalition and regional interests and policies can be executed. You have delivered. You serve simply because your nation asked," he continued. "You serve in hot wars, in cold wars, in places people cannot even spell or find on a map. And while you serve, your family sacrifices; they mend the broken bones, broken cars and broken promises while you stand guard."
Lovelace then spoke about his feelings on joining Third Army as its commander.
"There is no greater honor than the privilege to command America's sons and daughters," Lovelace said adding that this command would continue to remain, "Third, Always First."
Lovelace is a native of Richmond, Va. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in field artillery upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1970. He holds advanced degrees from Indiana University, Salve Regina College and the U.S. Naval War College. Lovelace has commanded field artillery units at all levels from battery through division and also served as commanding general, Joint Task Force 6, Fort Bliss, Texas, and commanding general, U.S. Army Alaska. His most recent assignments include director of the Army staff and deputy chief of staff of Army G-3/5/7, Washington, D.C., Lovelace and his wife Gail have three sons: Michael, Robert and Jeffrey; three daughters-in-law: Carolyn, Amber and Shanann; and two grandsons, Drew and Judd.
Whitcomb has been nominated as the inspector general for the Army.