- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

MASCOUTAH, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois-based unified combatant command that manages the armed force’s shipping and transportation changed commanders Monday during a retirement ceremony attended by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other top military brass.

During an hour-long ceremony at Scott Air Force Base east of St. Louis, Gen. Paul Selva took the reins of the U.S. Transportation Command from Gen. William Fraser III, who had headed that operation since October 2011.

Hagel, accompanied by the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey, credited the command with shepherding the Pentagon’s vital role of moving U.S. military equipment, personnel and fuel around the globe. That has included missions to every continent, from drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan to transporting scientists and equipment to and from the U.S. research center in Antarctica.

“It is no exaggeration to say that our military could not do its job without TRANSCOM’s capabilities on the ground, at sea, and in the air,” Hagel said. “You help keep our people fed, our equipment fueled, and you help get everyone and everything to where they need to be on a scale that surpasses any other organization in the world.”

“We are in an age when people expect immediate gratification, and that’s not easy,” added Hagel, whose remarks did not delve into geopolitical matters.

Hagel left immediately after Fraser’s retirement event without fielding reporters’ questions.

Selva had been in charge of the Scott-based Air Mobility Command and was succeeded during a separate ceremony Monday by Lt. Gen. Darren McDew.

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