Lt. Gen. Swan takes command of U.S. Army North

By Sgt. Joshua Ford | U.S. Army North PAO | December 16, 2009

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas — Lt. Gen. Guy Swan III took over as the commanding general of U.S. Army North from Lt. Gen. Thomas Turner during a change of command ceremony Dec. 15 inside the command’s historic headquarters at the Quadrangle.
Hundreds of service members and civilians also gathered to bid farewell to Turner, the command’s second commanding general, as he retired after more than 35 years of service – the final three at the helm of Army North.

The ceremonies were co-hosted by Air Force Gen. Victor Renuart Jr., the commanding general of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, and Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.

Prior to assuming command of Army North, Swan served as the Chief of Staff and Director of Operations, CJ3, for Multi-National Force – Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Before that, he served with as the Director of Operations, J3, with United States Northern Command, based out of Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to lead the Soldiers and Civilians of Army North for two reasons,” said Swan, after assuming command from Turner. “First, I believe deeply in the mission and the people of this command.  And second, in my mind there is no more noble task for a Soldier than to use one’s skills and experience to assist and, if necessary, to defend our fellow citizens in their homeland in times of great need.

“This job, this command, is truly the ‘no penetration line’ in the defense of our country.”

Prior to the ceremony, Chiarelli promoted Swan to the rank of lieutenant general before a group of Family and friends in Swan’s new office.

          Turner took command of Army North in 2006 after previously serving as the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell, Ky., where he deployed his command to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

          “Tom Turner is one of the finest men I know,” said Chiarelli. “He is a leader, a Soldier and a diplomat – a husband, a father, a son and a friend.  Throughout his career, he has held numerous difficult and demanding positions; and, in each case, he has done an absolutely masterful job.”

While serving as commanding general for U.S. Army North, Turner stood up the nation’s first chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive consequence management response force, which is tasked in preparing for catastrophic events, such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters. 

“Tom Turner was given the job of crafting Army North into a joint force land component command,” said Renuart. “Tom has just done a spectacular job in leading this command.  He has been proven in tough circumstances.  Over the last three years, I have counted on Tom to lead, to coordinate and to support all of the operations that U.S. Northern Command has been asked to carry out in this country.” 

In 2008, he said Turner and U.S. Army North responded to back-to-back hurricanes, Gustav and Ike, and provided a rapid response and provided key support capabilities, to include search and rescue, evacuation, transportation and medical.

“Not only have you taken this command from good to great, you have done the same for every unit and organization you have lead throughout your career,” exclaimed Chiarelli. “The Army is undoubtedly better and stronger for your efforts and sacrifices – and those of your Family.”

Turner, who graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1974 and was commissioned as second lieutenant in the infantry, said his next move will be a difficult one for him and his Family.

“This will be a difficult transition for me personally,” said Turner. “The Army has been my life.

“As I depart today, I leave confident that the Soldiers of today’s Army are men and women of character.  It has been my distinct honor to serve with them – to have been called a Soldier.  If I have been able to mentor one of these fine Americans, I will consider my duty done.”