FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii-- What started out as a basketball recruiting trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, turned into a 38-year Army career for Gen. Robert B. Brown. Today on historic Palm Circle, Soldiers and Army Civilians bid farewell to Brown, who ends his assignment as commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific. Brown will officially retire from service in a ceremony next month on the U.S. mainland.
Gen. Brown has served in Army units at all levels, with several assignments in the region to include the 25th Infantry Division, I Corps and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. He's also had two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Brown took command of U.S. Army Pacific on April 30, 2016, and during today's ceremony he thanked commanders, staff, and Soldiers for their tireless commitment and service. He also spoke of tense times two years ago when North Korea ratcheted its provocative behavior. Brown said he was thankful for diplomatic solutions, but made certain of increased Soldier's readiness so that if necessary, he could project a combat credible force.
"We all had to ensure that we would never put a Soldier in harm's way without knowing they are ready. We can look their parents in the eyes and say we did everything we could do…. it's been an incredible honor to serve with an amazing team. It's been the honor of a lifetime," said the general.
During Brown's tenure, U.S. Army Pacific was a model for innovation developing the Multi-Domain Task Force, advancing Multi-Domain Operations concepts closer to doctrine, certifying the headquarters as a 4-Star joint warfighting command, and promulgating the highly successful Pacific Pathways mission whereby Soldiers are now deployed into the region and training with allies and partners for longer periods of time.
Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, had high praise for his top land component commander.
"I'll will absolutely miss your expert advice, innovative vision, and candid demeanor. It was our dialogue-you and I-that helped advance the Indo-Pacific strategy," said Davidson, who leads the largest combatant command spanning more than half the globe.
"As you begin the next chapter in your life, I know you will continue to champion the efforts of our servicemembers across the globe, and you will continue to find ways to serve something bigger than yourself, just as you have the past 38 years. Congratulations on a wonderful career and promotion to civilian," said Davidson, which drew laughter from the audience.
Brown, who at 6 foot-7 played basketball at West Point under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, not only learned his love of the game, but service to his country.
"Coach K was a great recruiter, but it was on serving a greater cause than self that I fell in love with duty, honor, country, West Point and serving in the military. It's the people that kept me in."
Brown was joined at the ceremony by his wife of 37-years, Patti, and both are planning to retire to North Carolina to enjoy time with their grandchildren.