YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Col. Michael J. Harris, commander of the 8th Personnel Command, used an African proverb to describe how difficult it was to prepare for his command’s inactivation Wednesday.
Standing before a formation of troops, wearing his battle dress uniform and helmet, Harris explained that as the sun comes up each morning in Africa, the gazelle knows it has to run faster than the fastest lion to stay alive and the lion knows it has to run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve.
“In Africa, it doesn’t matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion,” he said. “When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
He said the his soldiers “were running … in many cases sprinting, literally and figuratively, to make our services better than ever every single day.”
Wednesday’s ceremony marks the end of service for the command, which was organized on Oct. 16, 1987.
Under a plan directed by 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell and orchestrated by Harris, the command’s Headquarters, Headquarters Company will mesh with the 8th Army G-1, losing almost 50 of its 150 soldiers. The 509th and 516th Personnel Support Battalions will fall under the 19th Theater Support Command.
Campbell told the formation that plan “epitomizes Army transformation” and was a “daunting challenge.”
He also thanked the soldiers for a virtually transparent transformation, meaning the soldiers they serve suffered no negative impacts.
Members of his command are “a diverse and talented group of soldiers and leaders,” he said, who have “touched the lives of every servicemember on this peninsula.”
Harris also talked about the command’s successes. He mentioned the Assignment Incentive Pay Program and the fact that 8th Army reached its retention goals for the last three years, and he lauded the establishment of one of the “Army’s premier human resource Web sites, human resource call center and new human resource self-service compact disc.”
“As I depart for my next assignment in the Pentagon, where I will likely never be heard from or seen again, I will take with me many fond memories after three tours in Korea,” he said. “I have absolutely no doubt that world-class service will continue for the soldiers and families across this peninsula. That, after all, is our legacy to them.”