JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON – After three years as the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Alaska District, Col. Christopher Lestochi relinquished his duties to Col. Michael Brooks during a July 16 change of command ceremony.
Brooks, a native of Alabama, became the 27th commander of the district during the event at the district’s headquarters. He is the former deputy chief and engineer planner for the Domestic Operations Division at U.S. Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Brooks will now oversee a multimillion-dollar program that provides engineering, construction, planning, contracting, real estate, emergency operations, environmental and regulatory services to the military, federal, state and local governments, as well as to the public in Alaska. Additionally, he will oversee the district’s support to U.S. Pacific Command’s Humanitarian Assistance program and the Department of Defense Foreign Military Sales program.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Milhorn, commanding general for the Pacific Ocean Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, hosted the event.
Lestochi took command of the Corps’ Alaska district in July 2012, during a time of fiscal uncertainty, Milhorn said.
“Through creative and innovative restructuring, Chris avoided a reduction in force, marshalling the talents of the organization to change the financial trajectory and creating future opportunities by challenging us to get better,” he said.
Additionally, under his leadership, Lestochi coined the phrase, “faster, more affordable and better,” or FAB, which contributes to the Corps’ vision of being the trusted engineer of choice, Milhorn said.
Milhorn told Brooks the opportunity to build on the district’s legacy is now in his hands.
“I am absolutely confident you are ready and willing to lead this tremendous organization of professionals,” Milhorn said.
Brooks thanked Lestochi for the warm welcome he received, adding that Lestochi made the transition to the district easier by preparing him to take over command.
During Lestochi’s farewell speech, he called attention to the castle on the Corps’ flag and the significance of what it represents.
“(The symbol) means quality, innovation, it means safety, and it means finding engineering solutions for the nation’s toughest challenges,” he said. “All of that is accomplished by people, and they deserve the thanks.”
Lestochi’s final message to the district was to continue the mission.
“We went through some tough times over the last few years – budget cuts, furloughs … we almost went through a (reduction in force),” he said. “There were times I’m sure, where folks felt that everything they were worth was under attack. But you have heart, and you carried on. We have made some difficult sacrifices, but we are in a position now to thrive in spite of uncertainty that is still in front of us. Under Col. Brooks’ command, I am sure you will take this district to an even better place.”
Lestochi now serves as the deputy commander for the Corps’ Pacific Ocean Division.
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Release no. 15-015