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JBSA News
NEWS | July 1, 2024

U.S. Army South welcomes new commanding general

By Staff Sgt. ShaTyra Reed-Cox U.S. Army South Public Affairs

U.S. Army South witnessed a historic transition of leadership during a change of command ceremony at the Fort Sam Houston Theater at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas on June 28. Maj. Gen. William Thigpen relinquished command of USARSOUTH, the Army service component command of U.S. Southern Command, to Brig. Gen. Philip Ryan.

Gen. Laura Richardson, U.S.Southern Command combatant commander, presided over the ceremony and marked the event as a pivotal transition for the esteemed military unit as she spoke of Thigpens’s many accomplishments and welcomed Ryan and his Family.

“Will [Thigpen], for three years you have been a driving force throughout the Western Hemisphere,” Richardson said. “Phil [Ryan] is the right leader, at the right place, at the right time to take over as Army South’s commanding general.”

Richardson praised Ryan’s extensive experience and leadership qualities.

“Ryan’s 33 years of service is defined by his detailed approach to every task and mission,” she said.

Ryan, who previously served with distinction in various leadership roles including his most recent position as commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Levant, Operation INHERENT RESOLVE in Jordan, expressed his enthusiasm and commitment to his new role.

“Taking this command is special in many ways, but one personally,” he said, reflecting on what he called a full-circle moment. “In my pocket is the very first coin I received in the Army in the summer of 1991 as a cadet. It is the Army South coin when the headquarters was still in Panama. Thirty-three years later, I serve as the commander of this historic organization.”

Reflecting on Thigpen's career and tenure, Richardson commended his exemplary service and dedication.

“You have served an amazing 32-year career, commanding at every level and dedicating yourself to leading our service members,” Richardson said. “You’ve served all over the world and throughout your career; you have had a huge impact on thousands of service members and their Families. As the USARSOUTH commander, you have mentored and coached an amazing Army service component command.”

Thigpen took command of USARSOUTH in June 2021. During his time as commander, Thigpen has catapulted the U.S. relationship with 31 countries and 15 areas of special sovereignty in Central and South America and the Caribbean territories, militaries, and public forces. Richardson highlighted how his efforts have significantly bolstered USARSOUTH’s operational readiness and regional cooperation, keeping the United States the partner of choice in the Western Hemisphere.

“Your leadership has been instrumental in strengthening the relationship and partnerships between the United States and partner nation armies through continuous exercises, subject matter exchanges, and key leader engagements,” she said.

Thigpen spearheaded several key initiatives including several Army operations, activities, and investments at over 75 locations in 25 countries within USSOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility.

“This has contributed immensely to building and maintaining our collective security and prosperity not only in the region but in all Americas,” Richardson continued.

Reflecting on his time with USARSOUTH, Thigpen expressed his gratitude and pride.

“Over the past three years, I have had the privilege to work very closely with Army commanders from over 26 countries across the Western Hemisphere, and without question, they are the most professional, committed senior leaders to wear the uniform,” Thigpen said. “As our combatant commander often says, the Western Hemisphere is our neighborhood, and we all have a responsibility to be good neighbors.”

Before departing, Thigpen thanked the countless USARSOUTH team members who have contributed to the success of the unit during his time as commander.

“As now the former commander of Army South, I have been fortunate to witness first-hand the amazing work that is done by our Soldiers, NCOs, officers and Army civilians in the headquarters,” he said. “To the Army South Soldiers, NCOs, officers and civilians, thank you for a job well done. You represent a beacon of hope for people around the world and continuously remind us all that freedom is not free. Your hard work and commitment, day in and night, make this unit so special. It has been an absolute honor to serve with each and every one of you.”

Richardson reassured everyone that Ryan will continue to lead USARSOUTH’s mission and remain committed to maintaining strong partnerships to advance security and stability throughout South and Central Americas and the Caribbean.

“You will help these great Army South and SOUTHCOM teams demonstrate time and again how we, the United States, will fulfill our enduring promise to be the most trusted partner for the Latin American and Caribbean people today, tomorrow, and always.”