Greater than its sum: Shapiro says goodbye to 21st TSC, Europe

Story and photo by Sgt. Benjamin Northcutt
21st Theater Sustainment Command

Maj. Gen. Steven Shapiro, outgoing Commanding General of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, passes the 21st TSC colors to Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commanding general U.S. Army Europe, during the 21st TSC change of command ceremony July 31 on Daenner Kaserne in Kaiserslautern. The passing of the colors signifies the return of responsibility of which the commander was entrusted in and to ensure the unit is never without officer leadership.

The outgoing commander of U.S. Army Europe’s two-star sustainment command said the command was greater than the sum of its pieces, during his change of command ceremony, July 31, at Daenner Kaserne in Kaiserslautern.
Maj. Gen. Steven A. Shapiro relinquished command of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command to Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, U.S. Army Europe commander, before Maj. Gen. Christopher O. Mohan assumed command. Mohan becomes the 23rd commanding general in the history of the 21st TSC since 1965. Shapiro will go on to be the Army Sustainment Command commander at Rock Island, Illinois, where he will replace Maj. Gen. Duane A. Gamble, the 21st TSC’s former commanding general.
Shapiro expressed his gratitude to each of the command’s subordinate units to accomplish the sustainment command’s mission for U.S. Army Europe.
“The vision was to become something bigger than the sum of our pieces,” Shapiro said. “That, to me, is getting everyone rowing in the same direction. I appreciate being able to take some time in the last couple years working with these units and becoming something bigger than just our companies, just our battalions, just our brigades and becoming something bigger for United States Army Europe.”
For Shapiro, this marks the end of his fifth — and most likely final — assignment in Europe.
“This is the last time I’ll stand on a parade field and would be able to salute the German national anthem,” Shapiro said. “And when I do that, I think about the great times we’ve had in Germany and our great German allies, but I think of all our allies. Without the alliance we wouldn’t able to transit Europe. Without the alliance, ship one wouldn’t be able to come in.”
Cavoli said that the Shapiro’s previous experience in Europe clearly served as a benefit during his time in command.
“This was general Shapiro’s fifth tour in Europe — and it showed,” Cavoli said. “In addition to his duties as the 21st TSC commander, general Shapiro has also served as the senior responsible officer for most of our forces west of Wiesbaden. In multiple countries across Europe.”
Cavoli described the 21st TSC as “the engine that makes the U.S. Army in Europe go” and described how 21st TSC influences much of the U.S. Army’s operations in Europe.
“Steve, under your leadership this command has grown, and it has expanded, and it has exceeded all expectations,” Cavoli said. “You have turned this command into a schoolhouse for advanced logistics.”
Cavoli said the unique role and importance of the 21st TSC necessitated the most qualified to lead the command.
“The commander of Army Materiel Command and the senior logistician in the Army told me how important the 21st TSC is not just to the Army in Europe and not just to U.S. European Command, but to the entire nation’s defense strategy,” Cavoli said. “He told me that he had to send the best guy he had to replace general Shapiro. And then he dropped the name Chris Mohan on me. Chris, you come so highly recommended. Your brilliant career is well known in the Army and we’re excited and lucky to have you.”
Mohan thanked Cavoli for the opportunity to take command of the 21st TSC. This is Mohan’s first tour in Germany after having orders twice before, and being subsequently diverted each of the first two times. Mohan pledged dedication to the Soldiers and mission of the 21st TSC.
“From the time I grab the colors to the time I let them go, I am all in,” said Mohan. “I am 100 percent dedicated to the mission and to your success. I look forward to learning and working with all of you, and continue to build on what Shapiro has accomplished.”