Story by SPC Michael Bezares on 09/12/2019CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, CORTLANDT MANOR. N.Y. A change in top leadership for New York's 53rd Troop Command took place on a parade field replete with dozens of Soldiers and a backdrop outlined with helicopters and tactical vehicles.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jack A. James, the incoming commander of the 53rd Troop Command (TC), New York Army National Guard, took command of its over 4,000 Soldiers during a ceremony at Camp Smith Training Site, Sept. 7, 2019.
James, the former commander of the 42nd Aviation Brigade Combat Team., replaced Brig. Gen. Michel A. Natali, who held the command position since 2016.
Natali has been serving as both the commander of the 53rd and Assistant Adjutant General for the Army National Guard. He will now focus solely on the assistant adjutant general's position.
Natali also continues in a dual assignment as the deputy commanding general for the Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, GA.
"I am so impressed by this organization and the Soldiers who are trained, fit and ready to deploy to accomplish the nation's missions," said James. "Our success in this mission is critical to us as leaders delivering on our promise to be there when our nation and community calls on us without fail and we will succeed in that mission."
James brings 26 years of service to the 53rd that includes being a master Army aviator and pilot in command of various Army aircraft including the UH-60 Blackhawk, UH-1 Huey helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
"My goal, during the time I have here is to build in the legacy of those that previously served and honor their service by leading the 53rd Troop into the future," James said.
The 53rd TC is composed of 32 units ranging from explosive ordinance disposal to finance and military police, and regularly supports contingency operations both locally and internationally.
Maj. Gen. Ray Shields Jr., the adjunct general for New York, presented the 53rd guidon to James symbolizing his responsibility to lead and care for the Soldiers of the 53rd TC.
Shields praised Natali for his service and expressed his confidence in James during his remarks. Both officers understand his priorities of retention, readiness, and Soldier care, Shields said.
Retention remains a focus for N.Y., and was reiterated by the outgoing commander, Natali, during his remarks.
"We rely on you to stay ready as individuals, coach your fellow Soldiers to do the same, and stay in the Guard," Natali said.
He also emphasized that the while the pace and challenges of ongoing overseas deployments, and contingency missions continues, the Soldiers of the 53rd remain ready to handle anything they're called upon to do.