Two years ago the Army asked Brig. Gen. Kurt Ryan to launch a headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that would be unlike others in the military.
The idea was to take a high-level logistics command that must be ready to deploy to manage emergency responses around the world and put it in charge of other large units that swelled at JBLM during its war-driven growth of the past decade.
He told himself he’d make it work, or he’d be the first and last commander of the hybrid headquarters known as the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
This week, he passed this command on to his successor. That’s a sign that the Army likes its new command model and wants to continue developing it.
“Frankly, they’re just getting warmed up,” Ryan said Thursday in praising his troops as he bid goodbye to them at his change of command ceremony.
He’s being succeeded by Brig. Gen. Jack Haley. The two officers are swapping assignments, with Ryan following Haley as the Army’s chief or ordnance at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Haley served at JBLM as a company commander in 1993.
“I am thrilled, honored and humbled to be taking command of the 593rd Sustainment Command,” he said.
The command oversees about 4,400 soldiers in the 42nd Military Police Brigade, the 62nd Medical Brigade and what was the 593rd Sustainment Brigade. They’re units that generally train to support combat units on the battlefield or to deliver assistance in other kinds of emergencies.
It’s unusual for an Army logistics headquarters to manage military police and medical brigades. JBLM developed that model in 2012 when it was looking for ways to improve oversight and mentoring for senior officers leading the brigades and battalions that sprouted at the South Sound installation during the Iraq War.
In 2012, JBLM also added a division headquarters led by a major general. The 7th Infantry Division now manages two infantry brigades, two artillery headquarters, a combat engineer headquarters and an Army aviation brigade. They’re considered front-line combat units.
The system freed up the lieutenant general leading I Corps to focus on strategic relationships with Pacific allies instead of overseeing the training and development of ground-level units. The base has a total of four Army commands led by general officers.
Ryan’s “leadership has shaped the command for many, many years to come,” said I Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Stephan Lanza. Lanza arrived at JBLM in 2012 when he launched the division headquarters.