Rumsfeld, Myers Attend SOUTHCOM Change of Command
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MIAMI, Nov. 9, 2004 Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock assumed command of U.S. Southern Command from Army Gen. James T. Hill during a ceremony at command headquarters here today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld attended the ceremony. He said that Hill is a great warrior who made solid progress in the area in his command. "Let there be no doubt, the region and the world are safer for General Hill's work," Rumsfeld said.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers took the command flag from Hill and presented it to Craddock symbolizing the change of command. He then thanked the men and women of U.S. Southern Command for their outstanding work in the region.
Myers praised the command for its work in combating narcoterrorism and for promoting democracy in the region. He said the command uses operations, diplomacy, military-to-military contacts, security assistance and humanitarian assistance to improve the security of the Western Hemisphere.
"SOUTHCOM has used all these activities to reduce illegal drug cultivation and trafficking in the region while helping to defeat narcoterrorism," Myers said. "The illegal drug trade is like a cancer on society. If left untreated, this cancer destroys the fabric of societies."
Rumsfeld praised Hill and the men and women of the command for their work with the Multinational Interim Force in Haiti. The secretary said that countless thousands of people would have died had not Southern Command stepped in.
Both Rumsfeld and Myers stressed the constructive engagement that Hill has had with leaders in South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Hill retires after 36 years of service that spanned from the jungles of Vietnam to the sands of Iraq to the halls of the Pentagon. He said the single greatest honor he received was to command young men in combat as a company commander with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam.
The general also commanded the division's 1st Brigade during Operation Desert Storm. Part of the ceremony was a cannon salute to Hill. Members of the 101st Airborne delivered the salute and delivered the last shell fired in his honor.
The general who wears three Silver Stars said that he was humbled by the men from allied countries he worked with. "These men have a lifetime of combat and do it for the same reason we do they love their countries," Hill said.
Hill said he was pleased that Gen. Craddock was named to take over for him. He called Craddock "a truly superb leader" who understands the problems and challenges in the region.
Craddock comes to the command after serving as the senior military assistant to the secretary of defense. In a short address, he promised the men and women of the command that he "will give 110 percent all day, every day."
Craddock commanded the 1st Infantry Division and served as the commander of the initial U.S. forces to enter Kosovo in 1999.