Col. George Turner took over leadership at White Sands Missile Range Nov. 2 in a Change of Command ceremony.
Following the passing of the colors ceremony, Major Gen. James J. Gallivan, commanding general for the Army Test & Evaluation Command spoke, beginning with a recognition of the beauty of the area.
“Look at the mountain and just breathe,” Gallivan told the attendees. “We should be paying to be here today, the weather, the people the scenery, we are blessed – it’s just Wow.”
He described the ceremony as symbolizing the relinquishment of leadership.
“It allows us to reflect not on the leader, but on the organization's past accomplishments and look to the future in anticipation of the organization's great achievements yet to come," he said.
Brig. Gen. Eric Little served as commander of WSMR since May 2021, Gallivan said. Little led a joint team of more than 6,000 service members, civilians, contractors and family members, commanding the geographically largest military installation in the lower 48 states.
One of the themes of Little’s command at WSMR has been about care, Gallivan said. Then he welcomed the new commander, Turner, to the installation.
"George, your experience speaks volumes, and we are thrilled to welcome you to WSMR, ATEC, and this world-class community; I promise you will fall in love with the people of Las Cruces and El Paso, and it will change your life forever in a better way," Galivan told Turner.
As Little took the podium, he pointed out they were using the same podium used in 1963 by John F. Kennedy, the only sitting president to ever visit WSMR.
Little commanded WSMR for two and a half years, the longest since Brig. Gen. Jerry L. Laws commanded the range from June 1994 to April 1998.
After knowing Turner for seven years, Little said he is honored to hand the colors to Turner saying “I’ve seen fresh ideas; you are the right leader at the right time.”
Turner addressed the community for the first time, saying it was another great day to be an American soldier. He then shared his pride in serving as the 38th Commander of White Sands Missile Range, as well as the Deputy Commander for Developmental Testing for the Army Test and Evaluation Command.
Turner most recently served as the Chief of Staff for G-3/5/7 Force Management, Headquarters, Department of Army in Washington, D.C., where he was previously Programs Division Chief. Prior to that position, he was the Ministerial Advisory Group – Defense, Chief of Staff in Kabul, Afghanistan.
He has served in a variety of Armor and Force Management assignments, including at Vilseck, Germany; Camp Casey, Korea; Fort McPherson, Georgia; Fort Stewart, Georgia; and Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
Turner’s deployments include Operation Able Sentry in Macedonia, Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan.
He holds degrees from the College of William and Mary, Georgetown and the U.S. Army War College.