NEWS | Feb. 2, 2018

USARCENT Director of Operations joins general officer ranks

By Staff Sgt. Christal Crawford U.S. Army Central

U.S. Army Central celebrated a rare occasion at Patton Hall today with the promotion of one of its colonels to brigadier general. 

U.S. Army Col. Michael T. Morrissey, the USARCENT director of operations, was promoted to general officer in a ceremony that highlighted traditions as old as the Army itself; he is among less than 1 percent of his commissioning year-group to attain the rank of general officer.

The ceremony began with Ruffles and Flourishes, along with an 11-gun salute. Traditionally, the band will play the number of ruffles equal to the number of stars the senior general officer wears. In this case, the host of the ceremony, USARCENT Commander Lt. Gen. Michael X. Garrett, deferred honors to Morrissey in recognition of his promotion. 

Garrett explained in his comments that the Army promotes off potential. 

“You’re being promoted for what you’re going to do – do for Soldiers; do for the Army; do for our nation,” he said. He also highlighted that Morrissey’s “calm, cool and decisive” nature, along with his ability to operate in an environment rife with uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity will serve him well as a general officer. 

“This promotion has very little to do with me,” said Morrissey, after his wife, Cindy; sister, Lisa Obermire; and sons, Tom and Matt, placed his new rank on his jacket and shirt. Morrissey attributed his success to his family and to the Soldiers with whom he’s had the privilege to serve. He began his remarks with a moment of silence to honor those fallen comrades he’s lost in his nearly 30 years of service. 

Morrissey enlisted in the United States Army Reserves in 1986. In 1990, he graduated from Pennsylvania’s Bloomsburg University, where he received a regular Army commission as an air defense officer. He served in a myriad of leadership positions from platoon leader through brigade command, which included commanding the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade from July 2012 to June 2014. During this command, he was responsible for deploying 4-3 ADA to Kuwait, 3-2 ADA to Turkey, and 1-62 ADA to Jordan. Morrissey also deployed the brigade headquarters in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, during which they led the forward air and missile defense mission across Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan. 

During his remarks, Morrissey mentioned by name a number of his previous mentors, many who were present for the momentous occasion. In fact, 1st Sgt. (Ret.) O.T. Ellis unfurled Morrissey’s general officer flag during the ceremony. Ellis was Morrissey’s first sergeant during his first battery command. The general officer flag dates back to 1903 when the War Department first authorized boat flags for the use of Army officers during their official visits to Navy vessels. The scarlet flag, fringed in gold and emblazoned with a single white star, will be prominently displayed anytime Morrissey is present at an official function. 

In addition to the general officer flag, Morrissey was also presented the belt and pistol that customarily commemorate this tremendous achievement in their careers. Since 1943, all general officers have worn a soft, pliable black leather belt with a gold-plated belt buckle that features the United States Coat of Arms. While the belt design remained fairly constant over the years, the general officer pistol has seen many evolutions. Today, the standard issue sidearm for general officers is the XM-17 pistol.