Fort Bragg's 18th Airborne Corps bids farewell to old commander, welcomes new
By RACHAEL RILEY | The Fayetteville Observer | Published: October 8, 2019
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — The 18th Airborne Corps said goodbye Monday to one commander and welcomed another leader at Fort Bragg.
Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera handed the command's responsibilities to Lt. Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla at Fort Bragg's Main Post flag pole.
Kurilla was promoted from major general to lieutenant general in a ceremony ahead of Monday's change of command.
Gen. Michael Garrett, U.S. Army Forces Command commander, presided over Monday's ceremony.
"This ceremony symbolizes the conclusion of one chapter in the 18th Airborne Corps' legacy and the beginning of another," Garrett said.
LaCamera is leaving Fort Bragg to assume responsibilities as commander of U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
Kurilla comes to Fort Bragg after recently serving as chief of staff of U.S. Central Command.
During his two-year tenure at Fort Bragg, LaCamera sustained the corps' readiness to respond anywhere in the world, Garrett said.
That response has included security force assistance missions, the Department of Defense mission on the southwest border, supporting civil authorities during natural disasters and leading operations as commander of the Combined Joint Task Force of Operation Inherent Resolve, Garrett said.
The mission of Operation Inherent Resolve is to work with partner forces to defeat the Islamic State group in designated areas of Iraq and Syria, and increase regional stability.
More than 400 soldiers from the corps and its headquarters returned to Fort Bragg on Sept. 15 after a yearlong deployment to areas of Iraq, Syria and Kuwait.
With a combined joint task force of partner nations and coalition forces, the corps defeated the Islamic State of Syria's physical caliphate after pressure was put on ISIS for 197 days, Garrett said.
"Throughout its tenure, we couldn't have asked for a better leader to command the 18th Airborne Corps — always out front, always leading by example," Garrett said of LaCamera.
LaCamera thanked soldiers of the corps "for answering our nation's call, for all of humanity" and for their confidence.
"The dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible," LaCamera said, updating a quote from T.E. Lawrence. "Ladies and gentlemen, meet the dreamers of the day — the men and women of the 18th Airborne Corps."
He told Monday's crowd that the 18th Airborne Corps and the Army are fortunate to have Kurilla as the corps' next leader.
Kurilla is no stranger to Fort Bragg. He served as the 82nd Airborne Division's commander from August 2016 to August 2018.
After thanking LaCamera and his wife, Theresa, Garrett welcomed Kurilla and his wife, Mary Paige, back to Fort Bragg.
"Erik is one of our Army's premier trainers and, as I said before, one of our Army's best ..." Garrett said. "I know that Erik is the exact right leader to lead this corps through its next chapter and history."
In brief remarks, Kurilla described the appointment as an honor.
"My vow to the more than 90,000 service members of the 18th Airborne Corps and the over 140,000 soldiers, civilians and family members that come to work every day at Fort Bragg is that I'll lead by example and lead with courage, empathy and honor," he said. "Readiness will be our No. 1 priority with a focus on our people."