Cleveland takes command of Fort Bragg's US Army Special Operations Command
The Fayetteville Observer
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland took command of Fort Bragg's U.S. Army Special Operations Command in an outdoor ceremony attended by Gov. Bev Perdue on Tuesday.
"We know there are operational and fiscal challenges on the horizon," Cleveland said during the ceremony at Meadows Field.
He replaced Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, who has been in command for three years and eight months. Mulholland will become deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa. Both wore the green beret of Special Forces.
Cleveland had been waiting to take command since the second half of last year while the Senate Armed Services Committee delayed confirmation of Mulholland's presidential nomination for his next job. No reason was ever stated publicly.
"John, my apprenticeship was an extended one," Cleveland said. "You never made it awkward. ... I look forward to continuing our work together."
Cleveland was promoted to three-star general in a private indoor ceremony before the change of command.
The three-star command has more than 28,000 soldiers and civilians at Fort Bragg and other places. Their jobs range from advising and assisting friendly forces to hunting down and killing enemies. Some go on missions that may never be known publicly.
Soldiers stood in formation at the ceremony wearing the green beret, the tan beret of the Rangers and the maroon beret of airborne soldiers. Three Medal of Honor recipients and nine Gold Star families who lost a loved one in combat attended.
Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, officiated and passed the command's flag between the two officers to symbolize the transfer of authority. Odierno, who wore the Army's standard black beret, presented Mulholland the Distinguished Service Medal for his role at USASOC.
Cleveland is "another proven leader" and "his credentials are simply impeccable," Odierno said.
"Charlie is a combat leader who will provide vision for the future," Odierno said.
Odierno said Mulholland laid the groundwork for the establishment of two one-star commands, the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command and the Military Information Support Operations Command.
Mulholland ensured that the rapid growth of Army special operations forces in recent years did not result in lower standards, Odierno said. He also strengthened the bonds of special operations forces with the conventional forces, the chief of staff said.
Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, also spoke during the ceremony. His command oversees special operations forces of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg.
Army forces represent 51 percent of the U.S. military's special operations forces. McRaven was in charge of the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed while he commanded JSOC.
"It was good to see the colors passed," McRaven said to Cleveland during his remarks. "You need a command, and I need a deputy."
McRaven described Mulholland as "a proud Irishman" and "stubborn as a mule" when it came to compromising on resources for his soldiers.
"He was raised by a tough Irish Catholic mother and a host of nuns, and, consequently, he demands discipline from his troops so they can perform beyond expectations in combat and in garrison," McRaven said. "He has a tough, hard, gruff exterior but hosts the tenderest of Irish hearts. Truth be known, John Mulholland is a softie inside."
McRaven paid tribute to Mulholland's wife of 33 years, Miriam.
"Without Miriam, he probably would be just another tough old Irishman, too bullheaded to appreciate the better things in life," McRaven said. "No one has done more for the USASOC families than Miriam Mulholland."