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Home > UNS > 140610-02



USASOAC (A) bids farewell to outgoing commanding general

by Sgt. 1st Class Thaddius S. Dawkins II
United States Army Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne)

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, June 10, 2014) – Paratroopers from the United States Army Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOAC) said goodbye to their outgoing commanding general, Brig. Gen. Clayton M. Hutmacher, during a change of command ceremony at Meadows Field, outside the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) headquarters, June 10.

“Clay is first and foremost an accomplished Soldier and a leader,” said Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, USASOC Commanding General. “What most don’t see is that he is a dedicated teammate, a humble man whose sense of humor, positive attitude, genuine compassion for Soldiers and the units he commands and supports, and uncompromising standards of excellence in all things aviation and Army, mark him as the finest Army aviation leader with whom I served, and has distinguished him from his peers.”

During his time as commanding general, USASOAC has undergone several changes as a new command. Cleveland took the time to discuss a few of Hutmacher’s accomplishments.

“Over the last two years, Clay has guided the fledgling command from a newly formed headquarters to a fully functional resourcing headquarters and member of the USASOC team of teams,” he said. “In two short years under Clay’s leadership as the second USASOAC Commanding General, we have seen dramatic changes in our Special Operations Aviation capability. Clay’s tenure has seen the development of a greatly enhanced Aviation FID (Foreign Internal Defense) capability, a maturing of the command as an advocate for the entire Special Operations Aviation enterprise, the procurement of the C-27J and of course, the continued world-class-support that the 160th SOAR (160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)) continues to provide around the world.”

Along with the newly developed AvFID detachment and the arrival of the C-27J aircraft, USASOAC also transformed from a provisional to active unit and the U.S. Army Department of Heraldry approved unique distinguished unit insignia, beret flash and shoulder-sleeve insignia during Hutmacher’s time in command. Another major accomplishment during this time was the development and activation of Company E, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, USASOC’s first organic Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems company.

Hutmacher achieved his many accomplishments amid a time of rising budget concerns for the Army and the Department of Defense.

“Brig. Gen. Hutmacher led us through the continued challenges of standing up a new command while reshaping the focus of ARSOA to support the future vision of both USSOCOM and USASOC,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Bob D. Witzler, USASOAC Command Chief Warrant Officer. “He had to do it all against the imposing backdrop of fiscal uncertainty. His ability to prioritize and focus the command and his unmatched breadth of experience across the ARSOAC enterprise was just what we needed to meet those challenges.”

Prior to taking command, Hutmacher said he had several goals for himself and the direction he hoped USASOAC would be heading towards upon his departure.

“One goal was to continue the good work of Maj. Gen. Kevin Mangum,” he said. “He did an excellent job of establishing the command and pointing it in the right direction, but there was still a lot of work to be done. Commands sort of have a life cycle and we are in the early stages, where we have to mature.”

Hutmacher explained his other goals he hoped to achieve while in command, as well.

“Another goal was to be a good teammate with various stakeholders like USASOC, the Special Forces Command and the other units that we support across the SOF enterprise,” he said. “I also put a big priority on being a good teammate with Army Aviation, the Department of the Army and SOCOM. My final goal was to strengthen the relationship with the 160th and the other units that make up the ARSOAC enterprise and to continue to build on the teamwork and to work towards achieving our charter, which is to reduce the span of control of the operational units. I think we have done that.”

Although Hutmacher believes things are moving in the right direction, he knows the command still has work to do following his departure.

“Are we done yet?” He asked. “No. Is the ball further down the field? Absolutely! I think we are perceived as transparent and a good teammate with everyone we work with, both inside the SOF (Special Operations Forces) community and outside of it.”

Hutmacher is replaced by Brig. Gen. Erik C. Peterson. Peterson’s previous role as Deputy Commanding General of Support, 2nd Infantry Division, will be Hutmacher’s next assignment. Peterson, who been friends with Hutmacher for years, is looking forward to his new job.

“I’m very honored to be afforded the opportunity to join the command,” said Peterson. “It’s an even greater pleasure to be able to follow a friend and colleague of many years in command. I’m looking forward to embracing some of the challenges associated with our mission and our charters. I look forward to ensuring we provide our special operations community with the premiere special operations aviation support they deserve.”

Hutmacher’s departure will mark his final time commanding an Army Special Operations Aviation unit, a job he never took lightly and wants all ARSOA soldiers to realize the importance of it.

“No matter where you serve in the ARSOAC enterprise, you’re in a great unit,” he proudly said. “I predict that after you leave this unit, you will look back on your service here with great pride and fondness. So don’t take serving in Special Ops Aviation for granted. It’s a privilege and you are part of a team that produces a capability for the United States of America that no other country in the world has. You are all critical to that and you are all part of the team and I couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to serve with each one of you.”