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News | July 9, 2020

Pacific Ocean Division holds Change of Command & Responsibility Ceremony

By Luciano Vera U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pacific Ocean Division

Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Tickner relinquished his position as commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Pacific Ocean Division (POD) to Col. Kirk E. Gibbs, during a social distance adherence change of command and responsibility ceremony, July 8.

The Army division conducted the change of responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Patrickson Toussaint to Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas W. Galick.

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, chief of engineers and commanding general of USACE, virtually hosted the ceremony and expressed his confidence in Tickner, Gibbs, Toussaint and Galick’s leadership and service.

“Command of a division goes beyond accountability for projects, people and money. It’s about driving revolutionary change, developing future strategic leaders and serving as guardians of the Corp’s world-class reputation,” said Semonite live-streamed from Washington D.C. “You all are proven guardians of the Corps’ credibility - leaders who develop solutions for the nation’s toughest challenges while taking care of their people.”

Semonite commended Tickner for delivering a full range of engineering capabilities and executing an $11 billion program throughout the Pacific on behalf of the nation and its partners and allies.

Tickner reflected on his time in command and thanked his family for their support and highlighted POD’s diverse number one resource – its people.

“The people of POD perfectly embody the aloha spirit, yet at the same time, reflect all of the wonderful characteristics that are found throughout the districts; Alaska’s rugged tenacity, Hawaii’s warm relationships, Japan’s revolutionary approach and Korea’s long-standing commitment,” said Tickner. “We have called upon many of you to leverage your hard-earned experience to see us through times of critical change, crisis and during ongoing operations. You weren’t just about building structures but were about building people and teams.”

Before closing his remarks Tickner thanked his closest advisor and most trusted confidant throughout this assignment – former POD Command Sgt. Maj. Patrickson Toussaint, who also shared his thanks with the region.

“I watched you (POD workforce) in awe during our most devastating natural disasters, and even today, in your COVID-19 pandemic response,” said Toussaint. “Your passion, enthusiasm and commitment to our people, mission and nation, are reflected in your many accomplishments and programs you have delivered across the Pacific.”

Tickner will take command of the USACE North Atlantic Division in Brooklyn, New York. Toussaint will assume responsibilities as the USACE 14th Command Sergeant Major.

With the socially distanced modified passing of the ceremonial flag, symbolizing the change of command, Gibbs became the 34th POD commander and Galick the Command Sergeant Major, of the Army Corps’ 115 year old division.

“I can promise you are getting a leader who cares about people and one who gives maximum effort every day with a goal of achieving greatness and delivering for the Nation,” said Gibbs. “I am ready for the challenge but most of all, I am ready for the new relationships that we will develop and build within POD and with our many stakeholders.”

Gibbs served as the USACE Chief of Staff prior to taking command of POD. He welcomed the opportunity to take command along with Galick, who served prior as the United States Army Engineer School Command Sergeant Major.

“I am very much looking forward to meeting all the great men and women of POD and learning what you do for the team, and most importantly how I can help each of you accomplish your mission,” said Galick.

“Being selected as a commander of a division doesn’t happen by accident,” said Semonite. “It requires a highly motivated, agile leader to manage the tremendous volume of day-to-day business and facilitate the long-term success of great organizations.”

“The right candidate is a strategist, advisor, and doer,” he said.  

About POD:

The Pacific Ocean Division has a highly diverse workforce of over 1,600 military, civilian and local national team members. The POD mission includes engineering design, construction and real estate management for the Army in Hawaii, Army and Air Force in Alaska, and for all Department of Defense Services and Agencies in Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. The division also administers the Corps’ federal water resource development program and waters and wetlands regulatory programs in Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The POD program includes the multi-year $10.7 billion Korea Transformation Program and the $15.8 billion U.S. Japan Defense Policy Review Initiative. The Pacific Ocean Division also supports U.S Indo-Pacific Command’s and U.S. Army Pacific’s Theater Security Cooperation strategies, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response (HA/DR) Program, and Civil-Military Emergency Preparedness with projects throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.