YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea — Eighth Army welcomed Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith, the first female general officer to serve in an Eighth Army headquarters-level position, during a Patch Ceremony July 7 at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul. Smith takes over as the Deputy Commanding General-Sustainment for Maj. Gen. David Puster who is set to retire following 36 years of distinguished service to the nation.
Puster leaves Eighth Army having laid down much of the groundwork for the relocation of more than 29,000 Soldiers, Civilians and Family members under the Yongsan Relocation Plan and the Land Partnership Plan with the South Korean government.
Addressing the jam-packed crowd at the Collier Community Fitness Center, Eighth Army Commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal praised Puster for setting the conditions for a successful transition.
"Today, we bid farewell to a remarkable Soldier, leader, and general officer," said Vandal. "Gen. Puster did a phenomenal job taking care of our Soldiers (and families) in a very complex environment ensuring we were always ready to fight tonight. Equally impressive, David coordinated one of the largest re-locations in the history of the United States military as we prepare our move to Camp Humphreys. His work (has been) instrumental in keeping this project on track and he made sure that it did not impact our readiness."
Smith takes over at a critical juncture of the Transformation and Re-stationing process as the bulk of the moves are set to take place over the next few years including the relocation of the 2nd Infantry Division, Eighth Army and U.S. Forces Korea headquarters elements. Vandal acknowledged the difficult road ahead for Smith as she assumes her new role, but reassured her that she was the best possible leader to handle the transition.
"During your tenure, you will have oversight of the Eighth Army's move and integration into our new Headquarters at Camp Humphrey," Vandal said. "I have no doubt that we have plenty of work in front of us as we move all of the Eighth Army units to Pyeongtaek, but I am confident that we have the right leader in Tammy Smith to…ensure a successful transition."
Having worked alongside Smith since her arrival, Puster possesses a unique insight into her ability to handle the massive undertaking. As his remarks came to a close he offered words of encouragement for the long journey ahead.
"You come at an exciting time of transformation," Puster said. "I'm certain you will continue to uphold the incredible legacy of the alliance (and) provide valuable support to our partners in the defense of Korea. Our commanders and staff will soon learn what I have already seen during our transition time together (that) you are absolutely the right officer, at the right time, for this job."
Throughout her remarks it was clear that Smith was extremely proud to serve as a trailblazer for aspiring female officers across the Army, but that it carried more weight because it was with one of the Army's most storied units.
"It has taken me 30 years of military service to arrive at what I anticipate will be the greatest assignment of my career," said Smith. "It is a privilege to serve in the Army, and it is a privilege to be trusted with the Eighth Army sustainment portfolio."