The following message from Secretary Hagel was read aloud at today's AFRICOM Change of Command ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany:
"To General Ham: You took command of AFRICOM at a critical time on the continent, and in the larger region. As a result of your leadership, America has deepened its engagement in Africa, building and strengthening important relationships with our allies and partners in the region. Your inspired leadership has helped African nations realize the value of AFRICOM in fostering stability and hope on the continent. You have proven yourself to be one of America's most outstanding, unassuming, and agile military thinkers and leaders.
As we celebrate your long and illustrious career, you have earned the thanks and appreciation of the president, the Department of Defense, and the entire nation for carrying the heavy burden of leadership with professionalism and courage. You devoted the whole of yourself to the United States Army and the United States of America, and for that, we are grateful. We are also grateful to Christi, Jennifer, and Jonathan for the sacrifices they have made in supporting you throughout your military career.
To General Rodriguez: welcome to AFRICOM. You have served with distinction on the unforgiving battlefields of the 21st century, and by your actions you have gained the trust and confidence of the president and this department's leadership to carry forward this command's important mission. Today we also welcome your family and thank them for their support.
Thank you all, and thank you to General Ham for what you have done and General Rodriguez for what you will do."