YTC greets new commander

By Sgt. Ashley M. Outler / 28th Public Affairs Detachment on July 20, 2012

A crowd of more than 300 people gathered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Yakima Training Center on a sunny Central Washington day last week to honor a departing leader and welcome his successor.

The training center took a pause from its daily training bustle to say thanks and bid farewell to Lt. Col. Michael J. Daniels and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph E. Santos, who passed their respective roles as commander and his senior enlisted adviser to Lt. Col. Darrell O'steen, Jr. and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher A. Raube in a ceremony, July 13, on the YTC parade field.

O'Steen most recently served as the brigade executive officer and deputy commander for the 192nd Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, Ga., according to Mike Morey the Yakima Herald-Republic. He served overseas previously in Iraq and Korea.

O'Steen told the crowd of employees, Soldiers, family members and others that he wants to continue the high-quality work overseen by his predecessor.

"I'm honored to be joining such a great team ... and I look forward to our future together," O'Steen said. Raube's most recent assignment was as the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group Company Sergeant Major. He has deployed eight times to Afghanistan, six in direct combat, three times to Africa and to numerous other deployments.

"Another skilled command team is coming in," JBLM commander Col. Thomas H. Brittain, reviewing officer for the ceremony, said. "I know (O'steen and Raube) are the right leaders at the right time to take Yakima to the next level. (O'steen) is also a proven leader and will continue to make Yakima Training Center better every day and keep it recognized as the premier training center."

Most of the remarks, however, were to commemorate the accomplishments of the outgoing command team. Brittain called it "a bittersweet day" to mark the departures of Daniels and Santos.

"He has made this a better place to train, work and live for all the military and civilians that call this place home," Brittain said of Daniels.

During his three-year command tour, Daniels led a workforce of about 300 civilian and military employees responsible for more than 320,000 acres of land, 25 training ranges and 400 facilities in what is virtually a small city that serves hundreds of trainees at any given time.

"He is a gifted leader and has built an incredible team here. He did that while he was touching hundreds of units rotating through this place for the last three years," Brittain said. "Everybody assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord or who has a home in the great Northwest use this as their training jump-off point before they deploy overseas."

The hundreds of units passing through YTC encompassed more than 50,000 service members of every branch of the military, Brittain said. Despite the short staff and formidable demands, Daniels always found a way to say ‘yes' to anything that would improve the quality and safety of YTC.

"We should all be proud of the work we've accomplished in keeping this facility operating on such a high level," Daniels said to his team and congratulating them for ‘improving our foxhole.'

"We've seen the refurbishment of much of the cantonment area infrastructure, development of new procedures that have reduced the risk of wild land fire and construction of new facilities and training ranges," Daniels said.

Along with continuous maintenance of the training areas, Daniels continued to build partnerships with the local community.

"He has reconfirmed and strengthened the relationships with surrounding communities and the leadership in government in this area," Brittain said. "He has done everything tremendously well and has met every challenge with balanced and seasoned leadership."

Daniels was selected to work at the engineer branch of Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Ky.