US Army Cadet Command
55 Patch Road
Fort Monroe, VA 23651
Released by: USACC Public Affairs Office
Release Number: 20101123-01 (M)
By Steve Arel
U.S. Army Cadet Command
FORT KNOX, Ky. – The Command responsible for producing 60 percent of the Army’s new officers each year unfurled its flag and officially staked the colors at a new Kentucky home here this morning.
The event at Brooks Field marked the culmination of a transition from Fort Monroe, Va., set in motion five years ago by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. That body directed the latest round of military asset shuffling, including the move of Accessions Command to Fort Knox and the Armor Center from Knox to Fort Benning, Ga.
Calling Cadet Command a pivotal piece in the development of the Army’s future leaders, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commander of Accessions Command and Fort Knox, described the organization’s arrival as historic.
“For over 70 years, the world’s finest armor and cavalry leaders were trained here,” he told a crowd of about 150 people. “Today marks the arrival of Cadet Command and the finest officer training in the world. … Cadet Command develops and shapes tomorrow’s leaders. It is a critical, distinct and strategic command in our Army.”
Elements of Cadet Command, which oversees Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and Junior ROTC nationwide, have operated at Fort Knox even before the agency’s 1986 inception. The command’s 1st Brigade, which includes senior and military junior colleges across the country and operates the Leader’s Training Course each summer for prospective cadets, and 7th Brigade, which oversees programs in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, already are based on the post.
Headquarters staff began relocating to Kentucky nearly two years ago. Only a few dozen of the headquarters’ nearly 360 total employees remain in Virginia. Cadet Command held a departure ceremony Oct. 1 at Fort Monroe, which is slated to close next fall.
Until Tuesday the colors had been wound tight around a wooden staff, encased in a plain, olive green cloth sheath. The flag – emblazoned with the command’s patch on a silky yellow-orange background – had been sealed by then-commander Maj. Gen. Arthur Bartell and Command Sgt. Maj. Herschel Turner, Cadet Command’s top enlisted soldier.
Today’s official arrival of Cadet Command also heralded the arrival of a new commander, Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald. Incidentally, the two swapped positions, with Bartell replacing McDonald as the director, J-3, for U.S. forces in Iraq.
McDonald looked on from the Brooks Field reviewing stand as Turner and the interim commander, Col. Barrye Price, uncased the flag as the commanders and sergeants major from each of Cadet Command’s eight brigades stood in formation behind them. It was a simple procedure, taking about a minute to free the colors from their cloaked state.
McDonald, an ROTC grad from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, is a 30-year veteran. He has held a variety of leadership positions with units around the world, including Italy, Canada, Germany, Bosnia and the United States.
Heading Cadet Command is McDonald’s first assignment in Kentucky. As the organization’s ninth commander, he said he felt “privileged” to return to the organization where he got his start and welcomed the opportunity to develop the Army’s future leaders.
“This is an opportunity to pay back what I received over the years,” said McDonald, who also is a former Junior ROTC Cadet.
“New beginnings foster tremendous opportunities for change and growth. That’s what I see today as we complete this transition. I absolutely can’t wait to do this.”
Three former Cadet Command commanders attended Tuesday’s ceremony. They were retired Maj. Gen. Robert Wagner, who helped start the command and led it through its first four years of existence; his successor, retired Maj. Gen. Wallace Arnold; and retired Maj. Gen. Alan Thrasher, the organization’s sixth commanding general.
Cadets on the senior and junior ROTC levels also played key roles in the event. Students with the University of Louisville served as color bearers and recited the cadet and soldier’s creeds. Cadets with Fort Knox High School were ushers, and Aaron Heard, a student with the program, delivered the Junior ROTC Cadet Creed.
Radcliff Mayor Sheila Enyart, who attended the ceremony, leaves office at year’s end. The BRAC transition has unfolded through much of her tenure. She called the ceremony an exciting moment, one she – like many in the neighboring communities – initially fretted with the pending departure of the Armor Center.
“To have all these young people train here is a blessing to us,” Enyart said of Cadet Command’s summer mission that attracts some 1,400 prospective cadets to Fort Knox.
“Having everything (arriving) lets you know the Army is still going on at Fort Knox. We were concerned at first because you never know what the transition will bring. It’s all for the betterment of our community.”