Monday, June 29, 2015
Army Special Operations will welcome a new leader this week in a ceremony on Fort Bragg. Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland will relinquish command of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command to Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo on Wednesday, officials said.
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) is the immediate higher headquarters for: the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (USASFC); U.S. Army John F Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWC&S); the 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger); the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR); Military Information Support Operations Command; the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade; and, the Special Operations Sustainment Brigade.
Cleveland had led the three-star command since July 2012. He will retire, ending a 37-year career, officials said. Tovo was most recently the military deputy commander for U.S. Southern Command in Miami. The Fort Bragg-based command overseas the nation's Special Forces, Rangers and other elite units, including civil affairs and psychological operations forces.
Tovo is a 1983 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who began his career on Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne Division. After completing the Special Forces Qualification Course, also on Fort Bragg, he became a Green Beret and served as detachment, company, battalion and group commander within the 10th Special Forces Group.
Other local assignments include serving as plans officer for the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, commonly known as Delta Force, and as chief of staff for USASOC. Tovo deployed during the first Gulf War, for refugee relief operations in Northern Iraq, noncombatant evacuation operations in Sierra Leone, peacekeeping operations in Bosnia on two occasions, five tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan. The latter deployment was as commander of the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan and NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.
Cleveland was commissioned in 1978, after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Before assuming command of USASOC, he was commanding general of Special Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, from 2008 to 2011 and commanding general of Special Operations Command South from 2005 to 2008.
Previously, Cleveland served as chief of staff and acting deputy commanding general of USASOC and held numerous positions within the 10th Special Forces Group. At the helm of USASOC, he maneuvered the command through a time of growing threats and tightening purse strings.
During a March speech at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Cleveland said he was faced with tough choices in 2013, when the command, like others in the military, was hit with deep cuts from sequestration. Cleveland was commanding 30,000 soldiers, with plans to add 12,000 more at the time, but those plans had to change to address the roughly $260 million that was cut from USASOC's budget.
"The growth had to come to an end," Cleveland said. "We were faced with a bill . The only thing I had to pay that with was people. We had to stop growing." But Cleveland said he used the cuts to help transform the command to better serve the nation in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under his plans, Army special operations units became more self-sustaining and leaders took extra steps to better communicate the unique skills the command's elite forces could offer. That includes direct action against enemies, but also working alongside indigenous forces, fostering cooperation and increasing military and civil capabilities. "Those are the twin sides of the special operations community," he said.
Under Cleveland's command, USASOC outlined the various overlapping missions and, for the first time, wrote doctrine to better spell out to other Army leaders how its unconventional warfare fits into the Army's core competencies.
In the face of ever-changing threats, special operations soldiers are more important than ever, Cleveland told students at UNC. He said special operations forces presented a "new way of fighting" that he compared to the rise of air power during World War II.
"We have a requirement to build, maintain and then deploy a global network of land power capabilities. Not only ours but those of our allies, friendly nations and surrogate forces," he said. "We're not fighting the way we did back then. Waiting for large scale combat . We can't afford to wait that long."
Article by Drew Brooks of the Fayetteville Observer.