By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
July 10, 2007 – The military paid tribute to a special operations leader at a retirement ceremony for Army Gen. Bryan "Doug" Brown here yesterday. Before Brown turned over command of U.S. Special Operations Command to Navy Adm. Eric Olson, Marine Gen. Peter Pace presided over Brown's retirement ceremony.
"Nobody could have served his country better than Doug Brown," Pace said during the ceremony.
Brown enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966. He served on an A-team and in 1970 he attended Officer Candidate School and then went to flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala. It was also the year he married his wife, Penny.
"It has been my experience that those officers who have had the privilege of being enlisted members are the finest officers our nation produces - especially those who do not forget what they learned in the enlisted ranks," Pace said. "Doug Brown, for sure, has always had the welfare of his soldiers and his troops in the forefront of his mind."
In the course of his career, Brown rose from private to general - the first Army aviation officer to wear four stars.
Pace said Brown built on the foundation of previous commanders when he took command of U.S. Special Operations Command in 2003. "He has made (the command) more effective in the crucible of war," Pace said.
In 2001, the command was a force provider to other combatant commands - it did not have operational control of special operations forces personnel.
"In the last four years, not only has he been a force provider, but he is also now a force commander," Pace said. "When it became apparent that we needed somebody to coordinate the actions across the globe of the things that special operations forces were doing, it fell to U.S. Special Operations Command and General Brown to make it happen."
Pace said Brown provided leadership not only for those in the military, but also for the interagency group that works with special operations. Brown took on the mission of understanding and orchestrating the deployment of special operations forces around the world.
Brown also worked to transform special operations, which includes a 20 percent increase in the size of the force and a 50 percent increase in the budget. It also includes "a mindset that brings with it a tenacity that says, 'I have a job to get done. How can I best get it done?'" Pace said.
The chairman said Brown has worked with all concerned to get "the 90 percent solution today, rather than wait for the 100 percent solution in 2017, because the nation needs it today."
None of what the general accomplished would have been possible without the support of his family, Pace said.
"It is true for all of us, but especially for soldiers in special operations community, that our families sit home and wait and pray for us," Pace said. "You worry about us all the time. And when we come home, you stand in the background as we get our awards and you pretend you had nothing to do with it."
Pace told Penny Brown that she was the strength of her family during all of the general's deployments.
"You have kept your family tied together when Doug has been doing the nation's business, and collectively this nation owes you a great debt of gratitude," the chairman said. "You have served this nation as well as anyone who has worn the uniform."
Pace presented Brown with the Distinguished Service Medal, and presented Penny Brown with the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal.