By Sgt. 1st Class Neil Simmons
451st Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – The Army Reserve’s newest sustainment command welcomed its newest commanding general and bid farewell to its former commander during a change of command ceremony here Nov 4. The ceremony is a long held tradition in the Army, signifying the transfer of authority and responsibility from one commander to the next.
The outgoing commander of the 451st ESC, Brig. Gen. Paul M. Benenati, made his parting remarks to soldiers standing in formation representing his subordinate units and the command he spent much of the last year standing up. He told them how his short time as commanding general and early reassignment is part of being a soldier.
“We frequently don’t know from one day to the next what our nation and our leaders may ask from us, and that is why we must always be ready, must always be trained and tactically proficient at our jobs because that is what the America people expect from us,” said Benenati. He went on to commend the 451stESC soldiers for their hard work over the last year, from building a unit out of nothing to taking on a training mission overseas in South Korea in just a few months.
“It’s almost like building a house,” said Benenati about his experience establishing the new command in Wichita. “You get to mold it and shape it…brick by brick you start to build the foundation.” He also expressed pride at being part of such a team during its formative stage.
“At no time in our nation’s history have we had a more capable and trained military,” Benenati said. “We have been blessed with some of the most tremendously talented soldiers that our community has to offer… I am an American soldier, and I can think of no other team that I would rather stand and fight with.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen M. Norris, Benenati’s senior enlisted adviser and command sergeant major both at the 451st ESC and his previous command, said it was a privilege to serve with Benenati but recognized he was needed elsewhere.
“The Army has decided to move him to bigger and better things,” Norris said. Benenati’s next assignment will take him to Germany, where he is scheduled to take command of the 7th Civil Support Command and be the deputy commanding general for the 21st Theater Sustainment Command.
Following Benenati to the podium was Brig. Gen. Kenneth D. Jones, the incoming commanding general of the 451st ESC. Jones’s previous assignment was as deputy commanding general, 377th Theater Sustainment Command, New Orleans, La., but having spent much of his adult life living in Kansas, he was happy to return to familiar surroundings.
“I have personally been on many convoys with several of the units here on the dusty roads of Iraq, so I am looking forward to coming back and being with you,” said Jones. “It is an honor to come back to where my service began in the Army Reserve, to be with the great soldiers and families of this command.” Jones continued by outlining what he expects of the 451st in the future.
“We are a good organization today. You’ve had a wonderful leader laying the foundation, and [Benenati] left you with the challenge, and I challenge you, to be a great organization.”
The 451st ESC was proudly established on Sept. 16, 2011 at the Army Reserve center in Wichita, Kan. It embodies the future of the Army Reserve’s command and control of sustainment operations. The command’s mission is to plan and execute sustainment, distribution, theater opening, and the reception, staging, and onward movement for Army forces within an area of operation.
In October, the 451st ESC took command and control of multiple Army Reserve units in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas, totaling more than 4,000 soldiers.