The 11,500 soldiers of the 807th Medical Command, headquartered at Fort Douglas, are already the kind of force the United States will need in 2020, the chief of the U.S. Army Reserves said Sunday.
Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz was in Salt Lake City to take part in the ceremonial passing of the flag and command change for the 807th.
Craig Bugno, a family practitioner in Fulton, Ind., was promoted to major general and made commander of the far-flung 807th, which has 118 units from Ohio to California composed of soldiers whose civilian jobs are mostly in the medical and veterinary fields.
On Sunday, formations from five brigades of the 807th stood at parade rest as their commanders addressed them. Bugno’s wife and four children were among the 100 attending the morning ceremony at Fort Douglas.
While Stultz called Bugno "the right man for the right job at the right time," he credited the outgoing commander, Maj. Gen. L.P. Chang, also a doctor, for "visionary" leadership.
Chang led the 807th after a major reorganization in 2008, innovating by putting Army medical units on Navy ships, among other things, Stultz said.
Consequently, the 807th has swiftly transformed from a strategic reserve — a force of last resort — to a ready operational force, he said.
"If you’re a radiology technologist in a hospital, I don’t have to train you to be a radiology technologist in uniform. I just have to train you how to do it in Afghanistan," said Stultz. "You’re epitomizing what the army of 2020 is going to be. You’re already there."
Chang said that since 2008, the 807th has mobilized 67 units, or nearly 3,000 soldiers. The native of Hong Kong is retiring this month after 31 years in the reserves. "I can tell you, this could only happen in America," he said.
Bugno reviewed the history of the 807th, which began in England as a medical service detachment in 1944, but urged his soldiers to look forward.
"It’s a beautiful law of life that if you stand still, you die," he said. "807th, look back with pride, move out and break new ground."
The 807th provides general, surgical, dental, ambulance, behavioral health, preventive maintenance and veterinary support to Army units and to civilians. About 500 of its soldiers serve in units in Utah.
While it goes on missions throughout the world, the 807th is the dedicated medical support to Southern Command, which is responsible for operations throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean nations.
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