Haas takes charge of U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Brig. Gen. Christopher K. Haas on Wednesday became commander of the Army's Green Berets at a ceremony attended by the elder brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Haas replaced Maj. Gen. Edward M. Reeder Jr. as the leader of U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg. Reeder had been in command since July 21, 2010.
"It's an honor once again to serve in your ranks," Haas told the soldiers assembled on Meadows Field at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters.
Haas has commanded the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan and Fort Bragg's 3rd Special Forces Group.
Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, officiated at the ceremony.
"No officer is better prepared to take the reins from Ed than Chris," Cleveland said. "He is a warrior, a leader, a man of courage and conviction."
Reeder, who grew up in Fayetteville, is the son of Ginko Reeder and the late Command Sgt. Maj. Edward M. Reeder.
Reeder was "hard and fair and fiercely loyal to his regiment," Cleveland said. "He knew intimately the challenges of Afghanistan, prepared his formations accordingly and provided invaluable insights on the conduct of that war."
Reeder today will take command of Fort Bragg's John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. The school, which is part of Cleveland's three-star command, trains Special Forces, civil affairs and military information support operations soldiers.
"Inside the hard shell ... beats a big heart," Cleveland said of Reeder.
Cleveland hailed Reeder's wife, Adrian, for her work with Special Forces families and the community.
Special Forces Command has about 2,400 soldiers at Fort Bragg and oversees more than 15,000 soldiers.
"The results they achieve quietly, out of sight, unheralded, are truly remarkable," Cleveland said. "Theirs is the hardest of missions in many ways, not lavish with resources, fighting alongside men whose world, language and culture could not be more different than their own."
More than 3,000 Special Forces soldiers, who are trained in foreign languages and cultures, are deployed to 51 countries on 82 missions, often helping friendly nations combat insurgencies.
"Most people will never fully understand what you do in all those countries every single day," Reeder said. "Most people will never fully appreciate that your actions each day in all those countries prevents wars, promotes democracy, protects human rights and saves countless lives."
Haas takes command as the U.S. military is withdrawing from Afghanistan and military budget cuts are looming.
"We face an uncertain future in Afghanistan, uncertain requirements in the remainder of the world and uncertain circumstances in which we will fight the threats of our nation," Cleveland said. "That's just the way we like it. This force was built to wade into uncertainty."
Afghan dignitaries attending the ceremony included Qayum Karzai, a member of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the National Assembly of Afghanistan, and the elder brother of President Hamid Karzai. Also attending were Sen. Ehsan Bayat, a member of the Meshrano Jirga, the upper house of the National Assembly of Afghanistan; and Amin Ramin, managing director of the Afghan Wireless Communications Co.
"You honor us with your presence, and your friendship has meant the world to me over the past decade," Reeder said to the Afghan guests.
During his remarks, Reeder read the names of 18 of his soldiers killed in action during his tenure in command.
"Never take your freedoms and liberties for granted," Reeder said. "They were a gift from the soldiers mentioned above."
Haas also asked for a moment's silence for those soldiers who died in action and their families and Americans serving in Afghanistan.
"God bless them all, and we will never forget their sacrifice," Haas said.