FORT BRAGG, NC – Soldiers, family and friends of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command bid a fond farewell to a cornerstone and well known figure within this community and welcomed another pillar of special operations during a change of command ceremony on Meadows Field, July 24.
Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr., relinquished command of USASOC to Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland after more than three years as the commanding general marking another chapter in the history of the command.
Gen. Raymond Odierno, the 38th U.S. Army Chief of Staff, officiated the ceremony and passed the unit colors from Mulholland to Cleveland symbolizing the transfer of authority.
“Shakespeare himself would have found it hard to describe and articulate how great it is to be around these men and women every day. They are our nation’s greatest treasure….who seek nothing more than the opportunity to do it again,” said Mulholland speaking to hundreds of families, friends, and distinguished guests among whom were North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue.
Mulholland continued by thanking the Soldiers in formation for job well done and reiterating that no leader is successful on their own but it is because the people with whom they work.
“Here is the simple truth, I have had the incredible honor and privilege to command the world’s finest special operations force,” he said. “They are the men and women who day in and day out take on our nation’s most dangerous, tenacious and committed enemy and consistently defeat them on the field of battle.
“You are here for one reason – because this is your day. This is your tribute and to honor you in the great work that you have done in helping these Soldiers do what they do on the battle field,” said Mulholland. “This is why we exist. This is the only reason we exist to make sure that the men and women of this fantastic formation are successful wherever our nation sends them.”
Adm. William H. McRaven, commanding general of the U.S. Special Operations Command had words of motivation and admiration for both Mulholland and Cleveland.
“It is my honor for me to be here today to watch the passing of the colors from one great special operations officer to another,” said McRaven. “The Soldiers who are standing in the formation today represent the very best of what John Mulholland and USASOC have given our nation.”
“They are Soldiers of legend – the Green Berets, the Rangers, the Night Stalkers, civil affairs and military information operators – all volunteers, many three times over,” he said. “The Soldiers before me are as brave as they are effective. Albert Einstein once said the world is a dangerous place to live. Not because of the people who are evil but because of the people that would do nothing about it. I can guarantee you that there are not spectators, no on-lookers within these formations. They are doing something about the evil in this world.”
After the passing of the unit colors, Mulholland made reference to his time at USASOC and reiterated on how proud he was to be the commander.
“It is impossible for me to do justice to everyone here in attendance but I am honored that you are here to honor these brave warriors in formation in front of you,” said Mulholland. “To our comrades within this great headquarters, the world’s only and the world’s finest special operations headquarters that does what this organization does, it is phenomenal that I have been so incredibly well served and supported by the great civilians and Army officers in this command.”
Mulholland also recognized that sacrifice of USASOC families who makes it possible for their Soldiers to be able to do the job that needs to be done.
“I do ultimately want to thank my great family. To my wife, I could not have done this without you. Whatever has been good, it has been because of you. Thank you so very much for all of you love and support,” said Mulholland. “To my children, we are so very proud of all that you have done and we are so very proud of you.
“We cannot do this without family and I would like to thank all of our special operations families from the bottom of my heart for all of their support,” he said.
“To our friends and families that have come from so far way, I would like to thank you so much for all that you have done for these brave men and women,” said Mulholland.
Following his tenure at USASOC, Mulholland will take the position of deputy commanding general of USSOCOM at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
Cleveland also assured Mulholland and everyone in attendance that he is up for the challenge and would do his very best to continue on the legacy of this command.
“I commit myself and the command ensuring that we continue the progress of the past decade of making the application of Army Special Operations and our conventional forces seamless,” said Cleveland. “USASOC will do its part to finish the fight, support the special operation forces operational commands and commit to preserving the war fighting strength of this magnificent force.
“Soldiers and civilians of USASOC, be proud of who you are, what you do and who you do it with. You are without equal,” he said.
“The Special Operations Forces has never been better and their role never more central to the success of our ongoing campaigns in Afghanistan and around the globe,” said Cleveland. “I am honored to be here and I am sure glad to get started.”