By SFC Alex Ramos.
Special Operations Command South held a virtual change of command and change of responsibility ceremony in Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., July 24, 2020.
The ceremonies are time-honored traditions that represent a formal transfer of authority and responsibility.
The virtual ceremony saw U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Fletcher, SOCSOUTH Commander, relinquish command to Rear Adm. (L) Keith B. Davids and Master Gunnery Sgt. Jerome N. Root, SOCSOUTH Command Senior Enlisted Leader, relinquish responsibility to U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jody J. Hall.
Adm. Craig S. Faller, Commanding General for U.S. Southern Command, was the presiding official, and U.S. Army General Richard D. Clarke, Commanding General for Special Operations Command, was the guest speaker for the ceremony.
Fletcher spoke first thanking Root for his service as the CSEL and then welcomed Hall to the team.
“We are extremely fortunate to farewell Master Gunnery Sergeant Root and to transfer responsibility of command to Sergeant Major Hall,” said Fletcher. “Two exceptionally and qualified leaders. They have excelled at every level and ensured their units not only maintained the highest standards but accomplished every assigned mission. The strategic and operational value of these two warriors cannot be overstated.”
Before the transfer of responsibility, Root gave his thanks to Fletcher and the SOCSOUTH team and welcomed the incoming command team.
“Major General Fletcher, I don’t think I could have asked to have a better battle buddy. It’s kind of weird right now, he’s actually sitting to my right about ten feet away from me, but I have to stare at the camera,” said Root smiling. “I’ve learned so much from over the last couple of years with an emphasis on positively influencing a team to achieve the command’s objectives.”
The outgoing CSEL joined Fletcher to transfer responsibility to Hall. After receiving responsibility of the command, the new CSEL thanked the outgoing command team and gave his hope and expectations.
“I’m truly humbled yet very honored and excited for this great opportunity…” said Hall. “To Rear Admiral Davids, I am grateful to you for selecting me and giving me this opportunity to lead alongside of you and I promise you and our fellow service members, I will not let you down.”
Faller recognized the outgoing Commander and CSEL and welcomed the new team while sharing a few stories. He also commended the hard work that the outgoing team put in and expects the new command team to continue the work.
Like Faller, Clarke recognized both CSELs for their dedication and service to the team. He then shared personal stories about Fletcher and welcomed Davids to the organization.
Fletcher spoke before the change of command and, like both CSELs, thanked his family and the team. He also thanked the Homestead community, the Military Affair Council, the front office, Faller and Clarke for the opportunity to command, and the entire enterprise.
“CSM Hall and Admiral Davids….You will find the (Area of Responsibility) complex, uncertain, and challenging at times, but I know you will build on the great legacy of SOCSOUTH,” said Fletcher. “…So as I depart…. I hope in some small way, I was able to make each and every one of you feel like a highly valued teammate,” said Fletcher. “It has been my honor to be your Commander. Thank you.”
The attention turned to center stage where Davids and Fletcher rendered their salutes virtually to Faller, located in Doral, Fla. The salute signifies the transfer of authority from an outgoing Commander to an incoming Commander and with it the assumption of command.
The new Commander of SOCSOUTH spoke last thanking the outgoing command team and the SOUTHCOM commander for the opportunity.
“Finally and most importantly, to the men and women of SOCSOUTH, thank you for what you continue to do for our nation, and I pledge you this,” said Davids. “I endeavor to lead always with the mission and welfare of you and your families is my top priority.”
Davids is SOCSOUTH’s 17th commander since the command’s activation more than 30 years ago.
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Alex Ramos, Special Operations Command South. Originally published by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) on July 24, 2020, entitled “SOCSOUTH Holds Virtual Change of Command, Change of Responsibility”. DVIDS products are in the public domain.
Photo: Outgoing Commander of Special Operations Command South, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Fletcher virtually relinquished authority to Adm. Craig S. Faller, Commander for U.S. Southern Command, during a virtual change of command held in Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., July 24, 2020. Photo by SFC Alex Ramos, SOCSOUTH.
Editor’s note: MG Fletcher’s next assignment will be the deputy director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.