By Barbara Gersna
Capt. Keita C. Rodgers relinquished command of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, to Capt. Marco G. Lara in a ceremony at Waybur Theater, April 9, at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Lt. Col. Brian Kibitlewski, commander, STB, 1st TSC, delivered his speech from Kuwait. “Many of you may not know, Capt. Rodgers was unable to have a ceremony based upon the Army’s guidance at the onset of the pandemic over a year ago. It is only fitting that we provide both the outgoing and incoming commanders this time honored tradition today,” he said.
Kibitlewski spoke about the many challenges Rodgers faced during his time commanding HHC, with most of the formation teleworking or impacted by contact with COVID-19.
“Keita devised a plan returning to tactical level training, that was safe, effective, and helped leaders reconnect with the junior Soldiers in our formation,” he said. “He provided the opportunity to measure the impacts from the stresses of COVID-19, and worked toward returning to combat readiness in our formation.”
Rodgers also conducted a campaign on excess equipment. Kibitlewski described how this helped identify and prepare to turn in close to $700,000 of items. Rodgers also reorganized the battalion consolidated motor pool, increasing its functionality to support unit maintenance operations. Kibitlewski summed up Rodgers’ accomplishments with how he “Facilitated deployment and redeployment of over 150, 1st TSC personnel from the U.S. Central area of responsibility.”
Kibitlewski welcomed Capt. Lara, and said that he “Is no stranger to the 1st TSC, being on board months now, working in the support operations directorate, planning sustainment efforts to enable operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. As a former member of the Army athletic program as a wrestler, Marco is no stranger to long hours and putting in the hard work,” he said. “With experience in both conventional and special operations units, Capt. Lara arrives to command ready for the task at hand.”
As he bid farewell to leaders and the Soldiers he led, Rodgers thanked the leaders who sat down and gave “honest, hard, and critical feedback,” Rodgers said that those hard discussions shaped him, and enhanced his professional development. He asked that these leaders pass on the same mentorship to the new commander.
Rodgers described his time as commander and the climate in which the unit operated. “We endured a pandemic, fights against racial injustice, increases in mental health concerns nationwide, and an array of competing circumstances. Throughout it all 1st TSC continued to achieve success,” he said.
Rodgers also spoke about leadership, asking, “Are you holding yourself to the same standard you ask of those around you?” He said that the noncommissioned officers creed describes it best, “All soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership. It is on us as a collective to provide that leadership,” he stressed.
Rodgers also asked all leaders to, “Be the reliable leaders we all have the capacity to be.”
He concluded his speech expressing his confidence in Lara’s leadership.
Capt. Lara thanked his family, leaders, and Soldiers, “When I graduated from the Captains Career Course, this is the exact position that I wanted,” he emphasized.
Lara said that he is excited about this opportunity to lead. “Thank you all for giving me this responsibility,” he said. “Thank you for trusting me, and I promise to work hard.”
Lara concluded his first speech to the Soldiers of HHC, “I’ll see you at work!”
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION