How to write a Change of command speech as Incoming Commander


A change of command speech or change of responsibility speech have the same basic structure whether it is for Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard. Whether it is a ceremony for a company, brigade or battalion, wing or installation-level, the only change is the formality. The higher-up the change and the larger the ceremony, the more formal your remarks should be. There are a few basic rules to follow and the rest is just adding something of yourself or something pesonal to your unit.


How long should the incoming commander talk?

The Incoming Commander should not speak as long. This is your opportunity to say a hello to your troops, your new bosses and your colleagues and for people to know a little about who you are, but it's really the outgoing commander's show. Talk 2-3 minutes for an outdoor ceremony with formation. You can go 3-5 if its indoor, nice weather or does not include a formation. If you speak a long time (especially if the outgoing commander talked too long), people will just be waiting for you to stop speaking. You'll come off as arrogant and long-winded, and that's not the first impression you want to leave.

Commander's Introduction

Whenever you speak, someone is going to introduce you, and that may include brief remarks on who you are. If you have certain accomplishments you want highlighted or certain things you DON'T want highlighted, find out who is introducing you and tell them (or their aide if it is a superior commander), what you'd like said. Give them about two weeks notice. Have a copy of your bio and official photo ready to send to them for more.

Tips for Incoming commander chance of command speech

1. Greeting and Amenities:

Thank the person who introduced you, and recognize anyone else appropriate (Ie: the band, the color guard, the service members in formation). Greet the audience and name any specific VIPs by name. This varies by level, but typically would include the highest 2 commander's present and their spouses, plus any political or civic leaders from the community. When in doubt, ask your protocol office for help identifying who should be recognized. (30 seconds - 1 minute)

Happy to be here

Talk about how happy you are to take on this new position. It's ok to talk a little about where you're coming from and your experience. If you're returning to an installation for the second time, talk about how pleased you and your family are to have returned. Otherwise, say how you've always wanted to go there (unless it would be inappropriate or ridiculous to say so).


Talk about what a great job the outgoing commander did. Praise the unit for any big accomplishments they've had and acknowledge any big challenges that will define your command (deployments, BRAC, unit movement, new missions, etc). Finally thank your new boss for the opportunity to serve under them.


Finish up with an inspirational thought, a quote, or a funny anecdote.

Its always fine to end the speech with the base or branch motto (Ready to Lead!) or (Semper Fi) or with a simple thank you. (30 seconds - 2 minutes)

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