NEW ORLEANS --
Lt. Gen. Richard P. Mills assumed command of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North Wednesday, Aug. 28, during a ceremony at Marine Corps Support Facility New Orleans. The ceremony also celebrated the appointment of former 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Sgt. Maj. Anthony A. Spadaro to the post of MARFORRES and MARFORNORTH sergeant major.
Mills and Spadaro greeted the Marines and assembled guests and dignitaries at the ceremony, which featured performances by the Marine Corps Band New Orleans and a parade featuring the major subordinate commands of MARFORRES and MARFORNORTH.
Mills said that one of his primary goals as a commanding officer is to be there for the Marines in his command.
“Marines can expect that my job is to do battle for the resources they need,” Mills said. “My job is to represent them at the highest levels of the Marine Corps, to ensure that interests, concerns and needs of the Reserve are met during the time I am here.”
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos wished Mills the best of luck during his time in New Orleans.
“As you take command, know that you have my complete trust and confidence,” Amos said. “Your hard work and dedication as commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, helped set the stage for a relevant Marine Corps. I believe you are well-prepared for the challenges you will face in this new post.”
Spadaro thanked his peers and his junior Marines for making his transition into his role of MARFORRES and MARFORNORTH sergeant major an easy one.
“You join the Marine Corps, and there, you meet your family who will be there for you for the rest of your life,” Spadaro said. “Thank you for letting me join this family.”
Mills highlighted the challenge Reserve Marines face with juggling their civilian responsibilities as well as the high expectations of a Marine Corps career.
“People need to understand the unique sacrifice that our Reserve component Marines make,” Mills said. “We ask a tremendous amount of them. Unlike the active component, which can focus on being ready at all times, Reserve component Marines have to balance their lives carefully. I believe we ask more of a sacrifice from their families and from them as they send themselves into harm’s way.”
Mills acknowledged that with the turbulent fiscal climate within the military, there may be changes to different incentives and benefits that Marines enjoy today. He said it is critical to keep Reserve Marines up-to-date, especially since many Reserve units are scattered across different locales.
“I think the best way to keep the faith with any Marine is to keep them informed so they understand the changing situations that they face,” Mills said. “It is the commandant’s desire that every Marine has the opportunity to serve out the commitment they agreed to. It is the commandant’s desire that we retain support in the family areas and that we retain support in the medical areas, and that we maintain our competitive pay structure. I think it’s important to keep the faith by advising our Marines and helping them transition if that is required.”
Mills emphasized that his expectations for the Marines in his command are the same as they’ve been throughout his years in the Corps: excellence is the standard.
“I expect my Marines to maintain the standards the Marine Corps has always maintained,” Mills said. “I believe in the total-force concept: there is no difference between an active-component Marine and a Reserve-component Marine when it comes to standards. I think those standards must be maintained, both professionally and personally. I also expect them to treat every other Marine with the highest respect and dignity, and I won’t tolerate anything less.”
Marine Forces Reserve, which is composed of approximately 106,000 Marines and 163 training centers throughout the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico, is the largest command in the Marine Corps. The previous commander of MARFORRES and MARFORNORTH was Lt. Gen. Steven A. Hummer, who held the post from August 2011 to June 2013. He is now serving as the deputy commander of military operations for U.S. Africa command headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. The previous sergeant major of MARFORRES and MARFORNORTH was Sgt. Maj. James E. Booker, who held his post from September 2011 to June 2013. Booker now serves as the senior enlisted advisor to Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces-Afghanistan.
Mills was simultaneously the deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration since 2011, as well as commanding general for the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, commanding general for Marine Forces Strategic Command, commanding general of Marine Corps National Capital Region Command and commander of the U.S. Marine Forces Cyber Command. He was also the first Marine Corps general officer to command NATO forces in combat during his time as commander of Regional Command Southwest in Afghanistan.
Mills was commissioned in 1975 from Officer Candidate School. As a company grade officer, he served with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in the billets of rifle platoon commander, weapons platoon commander, rifle company executive officer and adjutant. He attended Amphibious Warfare School, and then became a series commander at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.
Mills’ assignments during his career include serving as the operations officer for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), commanding officer of 3rd Bn., 6th Marine Regiment; officer-in-charge of the Special Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, commander of 24th MEU (SOC), the U.S European Command assistant chief of staff and later, EUCOM director of operations. From 2007 to 2009, Mills served as assistant division commander, 1st Marine Division; then commander of the ground combat element, Multi-National Forces West in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He then resumed command of 1st Marine Division and was later selected to command I MEF, until he assumed command of Regional Command Southwest.
Mills and his wife, Pat, have six grown children. The couple moved into the historic Quarters A, the recently renovated 1840s-era Creole plantation home at the former Naval Support Activity site here.