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1st Theater Sustainment Command

News Stories

3rd Med Com Forward welcomes new commander

By Staff Sgt. Brina Jenkins | 1st Theater Sustainment Command | March 27, 2024


On March 21, 2024, a significant event unfolded at the Morale Welfare and Recreation theater when the 3rd Medical Command Forward underwent a Change of Command Ceremony. This tradition-laden event not only marked a transition in leadership but also showcased the rich heritage and honor of the unit.

Col. Thomas McMahan, outgoing commander, 3rd Medical Command Forward, changed command with Col. Renn Polk after leading the unit for the last nine months.

While in command, McMahan was charged with maintaining the force movement characteristics and full mission-capable status of the largest Role Three medical capability in theater. A Role III Field Hospital is equivalent to a multidisciplinary general hospital. This facility can provide comprehensive medical care for a population of up to 5,000, with the ability to conduct up to 10 surgical procedures a day. The command provides the theater with expeditionary surgical, dental, optometry, preventive medicine, and veterinary services that directly support 1st TSC Soldiers and all Servicemembers currently deployed in the U.S Army Central area of operations.

McMahan also oversaw the Class VIII (medical material) warehouse and distribution systems managed by the U. S. Medical Materiel Center Southwest Asia, which enhanced theater medical materiel readiness. While working closely with their higher headquarters, ARCENT and the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, the 3rd Med Com Forward secured a 128 Slide CT Scanner valued at over $1.5 million to replace the antiquated 16 Slide CT Scanner. They also received an additional $2.7 million to purchase 136 critical pieces of equipment from Defense Logistics Agency.  USAMMC-SWA has already received 91 of these medical devices.

“I am very proud of the team, and I am happy to have taken command of such a great team.” McMahan said. “Not only did we improve the theater medical posture, but you all contributed to sustain and enduring improvements.

The 3rd Med Com Forward has a deep history dating back to its activation on May 5, 1942, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. They also played a vital role in various locations in Europe, to include Northern France and Normandy. After World War II, the unit was deactivated in Germany in 1945. Forty-six years later, the 3rd Med was reactivated September 16, 1990, in Saudi Arabia where they supported Operation Desert Storm.

Pivotal to the Change of Command Ceremony was the symbolic passing of the colors. The colors represent the lineage and honor of the unit, embodying the battles fought and victories won under its banner. As the outgoing commander relinquishes the colors to the higher authority, typically a senior officer, and the incoming commander receives them. It signifies the transfer of responsibility and authority. This act symbolizes continuity and the seamless transition of leadership, ensuring the unit’s mission continues without interruption.

As the new commanding officer of the 3rd Medical Command (Forward), Polk had a few welcoming words. “Like our predecessors, our intent is to leave people, organization and the theater better than we found it.”

For the 3rd Med, the Change of Command Ceremony was not just a formality, but a moment to honor the unit’s past, while embracing the challenges of the future.

1st Theater Sustainment Command is America’s only permanently deployed Sustainment Command in the Middle East that works alongside host nation allies and regional security partners to provide Army, Joint, and multinational sustainment solutions in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to deliver predictive and precise joint logistics, human resources, finance, health service support, and contracting capabilities to set and sustain the theater for multi-domain operations in competition or crisis. Since 2006, The 1st TSC has been perpetually deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations and provides and manages sustainment operations across 21 countries in the region.