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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)
Commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Holds Change of Command Ceremony
by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist RJ Stratchko, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group
06 October 2021
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. --
In a minimally attended ceremony due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, Commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) held a change of command ceremony at Naval Weapons Station-Cheatham Annex in Williamsburg, Virginia on Oct. 2.
Rear Adm. Dennis E. Collins, from Centennial, Colorado, relieved Rear Adm. Jackie McClelland, from Ocean City, New Jersey, and served as NAVELSG’s commander since Oct. 5, 2019.
Mark Sakowski, NAVELSG Chief of Staff, began the ceremonies with an “ahoy” and by speaking on the uniqueness of the change of command ceremony.
“Today is a very special day, the change of command ceremony honors the heritage, core values, and long-standing traditions of our naval service, and they also serve to forge the foundation for future naval generations to come,” said Sakowski.
Sakowski then spoke to the limited audience of NAVELSG personnel, family, friends, and those live online, on the history of the change of command ceremony.
“The United States Navy change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition which has its roots in a rich naval heritage dating back centuries to the earliest beginnings of our service. It is a formal ritual conducted before the assembled ship’s crew marking the formal passing of responsibility, authority, and the accountability of command from one officer to another,” said Sakowski. “It is a custom wholly naval, without an equivalent counterpart in the other services. Custom has established that this ceremony be formal and impressive. Designed to strengthen that respect for authority which is vital to any military organization.”
Sakowski then introduced Rear Adm. Joseph DiGuardo, Jr., Commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) and NECC Pacific, who was the presiding officer for the ceremony, who addressed the audience.
“The things that she [McClelland] has done as a citizen Sailor and as an officer for the United States are incredible. I’ve learned an immense amount from her and our exchanges have not just been helpful to me but helpful to the force. Thank you for your leadership.” said DiGuardo. “I’m really excited about you [Collins] coming on board. He has the exact experience we need right now as we are in the midst of great power competition with great power adversaries, especially with his experience in the Indo-Pacific region are incredible and his experience I will be leaning on.”
DiGuardo who was virtually attending started his remarks by thanking the families of McClelland and Collins and addressed the audience.
“In the business of logistics, and when I think of the work that NAVELSG does, I think of an epic proverb ‘For Want of a Nail’ and its topic is on that has stuck with me for years. I think it is endemic of the importance of logistics, and the logisticians of the military, and for us in the Department of Defense, and our case in the U.S. Navy, and the Expeditionary Combat Force.” said DiGuardo.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost,
for want of a battle the war was lost.
And a kingdom fell—all for want of a nail.
“If you think about a line that was just drawn between the smallest piece of an important combat system to the strategic effect it has on, in this case, the kingdom, you see the importance of logistics in the United States Navy and militaries throughout time,” continued DiGuardo. “It has been a cautionary tale of a time of if and when you take for granted the military logistics that are required to ensure the success of our lethality. And that lethality is required to ensure the success of our nation. You see how important expeditionary logistics is.”
DiGuardo closed his remarks then called the military personnel present to attention and asked the guests to rise as he awarded the Legion of Merit Medal to McClelland for her accomplishments while in command of NAVELSG. DiGuardo then turned the floor over to McClelland. McClelland thanked the numerous honored guests in attendance and spoke to NAVELSG for the last time as its commanding officer.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as your commander. I want to thank my family and thank you all for being here today in the capital of Cargo Nation. It’s the men and women of NAVELSG that make this command so great. We are developing critical capabilities supporting operations in austere and isolated locations in support of the contested logistics framework,” said McClelland. “I leave you all with this one thought. Not all superheroes wear capes, some wear the fabric of our Navy. So I charge you to be bold, be brave, and be tenacious in the fight.”
McClelland ended her remarks where she and Collins then read their orders before meeting in front of DiGuardo to ceremoniously execute the change of command. Collins then addressed NAVELSG for the first time as its 15th commanding officer.
“NAVELSG remains committed to supporting the fleet and our partner forces in today’s complex environment in the Pacific and around the globe. NAVELSG will ensure we can rearm, refuel and resupply, when and where needed as we operate forward in a dynamic and distributed construct,” said Collins. “I’m excited about our future together and there is no time to waste. We will get the job done, be ready when called, and think critically about how to position NAVELSG for the future fight.”
McClelland’s next command will be as the Vice Director, Navy Staff, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
NAVELSG is a vital enabler of Maritime Prepositioning, Joint Logistics Over The Shore operations, and maritime forces ashore providing expeditionary cargo handling services for surface, air, and terminal operations, tactical fueling, and ordnance handling/reporting in support of worldwide Naval, Joint, interagency, and combined forces/organization.
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