Lt. Gen. Robert Brown said he went into Thursday's change of command ceremony at Fort Leavenworth looking for the right words.

He found them courtesy of his predecessor, Lt. Gen. David Perkins.

Lt. Gen. Robert Brown said he went into Thursday's change of command ceremony at Fort Leavenworth looking for the right words.

He found them courtesy of his predecessor, Lt. Gen. David Perkins.

"I was looking for a motto and Dave Perkins gave it to me — 'the heart and soul of the Army,'" said Brown, the Fort and Combined Arms Center's incoming commanding general.

More than 1,000 people attended the command ceremony inside Eisenhower Auditorium at the base's Lewis and Clark Center, a formal event and military tradition passing command from Perkins to Brown.

Perkins, who the U.S. Senate confirmed for his fourth star, assumed Fort and CAC command in November 2011. He will become commanding general in mid-March of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia.

Brown joins Fort Leavenworth from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, where he was senior Army commander.

Gen. Robert Cone, TRADOC commanding general, made opening remarks about the two Army leaders.

"Today is a win-win for our Army," he said.

"Lt. Gen. Dave Perkins and Bob Brown personify the best innovative thinkers, Army team builders and leader developers within the ranks of our senior leaders today, believe me."

"It's like, literally, having Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on the same team."

Cone praised Perkins and his family for "remarkable leadership, visionary thinking," and a strong commitment to soldiers and families.

He also commended Perkins for his work leading the Army through a complete rewrite and reorganization of more than 50 doctrinal manuals, the first such undertaking of its kind.

"Never before had our Army had doctrinal manuals for all the different war-time functions and unit types been linked together in this truly holistic manner," Cone said. "It would be hard to overstate the work and management skills and imagination necessary to bring about such a solution." 

Perkins said Fort Leavenworth and CAC have two well-earned mottos — the "intellectual center of the Army," and the "engine of change."

"Again, I think well earned, as we develop ideas for the Army," he said. "As I always tell my staff, don't worry about owning the process — own the ideas because the ideas will drive the process."

But, the outgoing commander said the best description of his former post was passed down from a mentor. The mentor said he always considered Fort Leavenworth the "heart and soul of the Army."

"That's a powerful statement," Perkins said.

"When you say heart and soul, well, when you think about a heart, that is what really moves the lifeblood of an organization or a person. So, it is essential to life. When you say a soul, well, in many ways that's sacred."

Soul, he added, describes Brown.

"To the incoming team, I think you are exactly the kind of people we need, as far as the heart and soul goes," Perkins said. "… If you say, 'Show me somebody that has soul for the Army and soldiers,' what would appear is a picture of Bob Brown.

"There's nobody else in the Army that has more soul than him for the Army, for the commitment, for the commitment he has for the profession."

Brown, who was joined at Thursday's ceremony by friends and family, said he's proud to be leading Fort Leavenworth and CAC.

"I'm truly honored to join the CAC team and this great Leavenworth community," he said.

"It's just very impressive what CAC does for the Army and most folks don't know all that is done, and I'm very proud to follow such a gifted leader as David Perkins. … He really has taken CAC to the next level. … It's just incredibly impressive what he has done."

Vince Carlisle, a Fort Leavenworth staff support specialist, served as announcer for the ceremony, a "military event that runs deep in symbolism and heritage," and one spanning more than 239 years in the Army.

The ceremony included a passing of unit colors, transferring authority and responsibility from Perkins to Brown.

Chaplain Col. Ronald Thomas led an invocation, and added a goodbye to the base's outgoing commander and his wife.

"The hardest part of today is saying farewell to Lt. Gen. Perkins and Ginger," Thomas said. "Some of us got to know (them) better than others, but all of us experienced their loving and caring heart."

"We are indeed a better community because of them."