MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Armed Forces Reserve Center hosted a historic change of command ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 5.
“Today marks two milestones,” said Maj. Gen. William Frink Jr., commanding general of the 79th Sustainment Support Command. “In addition to being the first change of command for the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, it is also the first major event to be held at this brand new state-of-the-art facility. We moved the ESC headquarters from Fort Lawton when they were downrange, officially closing Fort Lawton in February. This is the first major public community ceremony since the 364th returned from deployment, so thank you for allowing me to visit your new home and take part in your first change of command since returning from your successful deployment.”
Brig. Gen. Jonathan G. Ives, who had commanded the unit since its formation in 2009, left to become the deputy commanding general of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, a U.S. Army Reserve unit in New Orleans. Brig. Gen. I. Neal Black, the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command’s new commanding general, comes to the Puget Sound after serving as deputy commander for mobilization at the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
“While commanding the 364th, Gen. Ives successfully deployed the unit to Kuwait to handle the historic drawdown of forces from Iraq,” Frink said. “Even though the 364th was mobilized two years ahead of schedule, Jonathan and his amazing group of soldiers handled that mission — the largest logistical operation since World War II — with skill and professionalism, ensuring the president’s directive was enacted. As Gen. Ives himself said, you got ‘em home for the holidays.”
Frink noted that, under Ives’ command, 68,000 troops and 11,000 truckloads of equipment came safely out of Iraq, which means the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command successfully executed the single largest logistical movement in the history of the U.S. Army.
“The 364th literally closed the door on the Iraq theater after seven years of war,” Frink said. “This deployment illustrates just how true it is that the Army doesn’t roll without the Army Reserve.”
After congratulating Ives on the birth of his daughter on Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving — “If that’s not an excellent reason to give thanks, I don’t know what is” — Frink moved on to praise Black as a more-than-worthy successor.
“Neal is the type of leader who empowers his soldiers,” Frink said. “He gives them the opportunity to excel at missions that they might have initially thought were beyond them. This is what the 364th needs in its reset phase, is a leader who gives his soldiers the mission and lets them make it happen. This reset phase is an opportunity to build the 364th in his own vision. Reset can be challenging, but it’s also rewarding. I look forward to seeing what the 364th will look like this time next year.”
When asked to look back on his legacy, Ives referred instead to the collective legacy of the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command under his watch.
“Our legacy is about how we stood up the command, how we grew and mobilized the command, and how we have become the best ESC in the U.S. Army,” Ives said. “We have done a significant amount of work. When you look back in three short years since 2009, we have structured an operational command with Force Generation Mission Command responsibilities when there was none before.”
Ives admitted that, when his unit received its alert order, more than a few senior officers expressed doubts about its capability and readiness.
“If there is one personal legacy to remember about Brig. Gen. Ives, it is this,” Ives said. “I believed in you. I was fully convinced the 364th would be successful in Kuwait or any theater. Was it simply a commander’s bravado, or just hubris? Maybe a little bit, but truly, it was because I was witness to how you were forming, and I was internal to the culture of the 364th. What I saw then, you still have. It is your culture, and you will never lose it.”
Ives credited his troops with forming a command and team in six months, managing the largest retrograde in the history of the U.S. Army in 56 days, saving more than $200 million through their logical hub, and nearly $20 million by reassessing their force structure.
“So remember, when called to duty, you answered,” Ives said. “Further, when you answered, you exceeded the standard, with what I have come to realize are two cultural values of the Army Reserve — mission without ego, and serving as an advocate of the taxpayer.”
Like Frink, Ives thanked the assembled civic leaders and civilian family members and friends in attendance for their support of the military.
By contrast to his peers, Black was a self-described man of few words.
“To Maj. Gen. Frink, I promise you I will give you my full effort to keep this a top command,” Black said. “To Brig. Gen. Ives, I promise you I will not screw up what you’ve given me. To my soldiers, I promise you I will make my decisions with you in mind. The mission will come first, as it must, but I will take care of you, just as you take care of the mission. When people thank me for my service, I tell them it is my pleasure to get to work with dedicated young men and women like you.”