ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – Beginning with the fanfare of “Ruffles and Flourishes” and ending with the Army Song, the promotion of Maj. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, 20th Spt. Cmd. (CBRNE) commander, marked the first time the command is led by a two-star general.
The ceremony Friday, hosted by Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commander, U.S. Army Forces Command, was attended by more than 200 soldiers and civilians, and many of Smith’s family members attended, including his wife and two daughters.
Opening his remarks, Rodriguez said, “No promotion goes without a few stories,” prompting laughter from Smith and the audience. Rodriguez spoke of Smith’s determination and dedication to the command, as well as the Army, and paid special recognition to the family.
“This day is as much about his family as it is about him,” Rodriguez said. “Family helps us develop and grow, and guides us as we go through life.”
As Rodriguez noted some of Smith’s accomplishments throughout his 27-year career, citing assignments at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he put special focus on the role of the 20th Spt. Cmd. (CBRNE) in the world, calling the command an “incredible organization.”
“This command has global reach and is on the frontlines of defense,” he said. “There is nowhere you can go where this command is not wanted and not needed.”
As he concluded his remarks, Rodriguez said Smith sets a great example and is a positive influence on soldiers.
“This ceremony isn’t just about what’s done, but what he can do,” Rodriguez said.
Moving into the official promotion portion of the ceremony, Smith’s wife and daughters, as well as Rodriguez, pinned Smith’s new rank to his uniform. Rodriguez then administered the oath of office and presented Smith with the major general flag, as narrator Maj. Lucas Towne, 20th Spt. Cmd. (CBRNE) secretary to the general staff explained the significance of the general’s flag, which he said “symbolizes leadership on the field.” Each general officer keeps the flag in his or her office and is presented with a new flag if promoted.
As Smith began his remarks, he quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live,” and he dedicated the ceremony to the fallen soldiers and the families of those soldiers.
Smith also recognized leaders that have influenced him along the way, noting these leaders have contributed to his leadership style. There were a number of friends in the audience and Smith placed special emphasis on the role of friends, saying, “next to family, friends sustain you.”
Before presenting the women in his family with flowers, Smith noted the important role family played in not only his career but in his development, specifically recognizing his mother.
“My mother always stressed that hard work, perseverance and education pays off,” Smith said. “There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be standing here without the support of my family.”
In closing, Smith said that as he wears his new stars, he will constantly be reminded of all the people that helped him get to this point in his career, and he hopes to continue to be a role model to the soldiers around him.
Smith said, “We are placed here to help direct the paths of the people around us.”