Into the breach: Change of command at 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

By Spc. John Irish | 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) | April 15, 2019

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. —

The 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) held a change of command ceremony at the Tech. Sgt. Vernon McGarity U.S. Army Reserve Center in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, April 13, 2019. Col. John T. Johns, deputy commanding officer of the 316th ESC, relieved Brig. Gen. Robert D. Harter as commanding general.

Maj. Gen. Steven W. Ainsworth, commanding general of the 377th Sustainment Command (Theater), hosted the event in which joint partners from the Air Force, Coast Guard and the Pittsburgh community were in attendance.

Harter commanded the 316th ESC for three years, which included a deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of operations in 2016-2017. His next assignment is as chief of staff of the Army Materiel Command and assistant deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Reserve.

During the ceremony, Ainsworth cited Harter's tremendous strides in advancing the 316th ESC, from medical readiness to professional military education, to unit environment and community effort.

"He has set the bar," said Ainsworth. "He has increased the resilience of the unit and built the unit for the long-term. That's what good leaders do."

Harter opened his remarks by thanking his wife and children for supporting him through his past 27 years of military service and multiple deployments to the Middle East.

Harter's father, who was also in attendance along with his mother, served in the Vietnam War as an infantry officer and was wounded in action. Harter praised his mother for seeing both husband and son through multiple wars.

To the Soldiers of the 316th, Harter said, "What a blessing this ride has been. [It was] the absolute greatest privilege and honor of my military career to be given the opportunity to command the 316th ESC."

Harter attributed the success of the 316th during their 2016-2017 deployment to Kuwait to his troops.

"Everyone here knows that it’s our Soldiers and civilians in our units on the front lines, the tip of the spear, the one percent, who make all this happen. I have travelled the battle space, seen our men and women in action busting through every obstacle, taking on every challenge, always taking the 316th to the next level,” said Harter.

Next he thanked Johns for serving with him in multiple roles. Johns joined the 316th ESC during their last deployment, first as chief of the financial management section, then as Harter's chief of staff. 

For Harter, it was natural for Johns to next assume the role of deputy commanding officer, and to ultimately replace him as the interim commander.

Harter concluded with this remark to his Soldiers: "Be proud of who you are. You are America's defenders. You make a difference every single day. It was a tremendous honor to be your commander and a tremendous honor to serve with you. I will see you all on the high ground."

Johns’ remarks followed, in which he thanked Ainsworth for his guidance and the opportunity to take command of the 316th ESC, as well as Harter for his leadership and mentorship over the previous three years.

“You led and fostered a team of professionals that distinguished itself well with our strategic, operational and supporting partners, both in Kuwait and since we returned home,” said Johns. “You are leaving me a solid team of professionals that truly care about the success of this command.”

“Here again, you asked me to step into the breach and take command of this honored organization and its amazing warriors,” said Johns.

Johns went on to thank his wife, Julie, for the 26 years over which she has continuously supported his military career.

Finally, Johns thanked the Soldiers and leaders of the 316th ESC for their professionalism, effort and dedication to the Army.

“Our nation would not be here without you,” said Johns. “I’m honored and committed to serve all of you as your commander.”