Former Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper is heading to the Pentagon as the deputy chief of the U.S. Army Reserve.
General Mark Milley, the U.S. Army’s chief of staff, announced Roper’s appointment Friday morning. He will begin his duties on July 1.
Roper, who for three decades has continued to rise in the Reserve ranks, most recently has served as the commanding general for the 76th U.S. Army Reserve Operational Response Command in Salt Lake City, which is the Army Reserve’s all hazard response command. The Army Reserve is a community-based force with more than 200,000 soldiers and civilians with a “footprint” that includes 50 states, five territories, and more than 30 countries. It is a critical force provider of trained and ready units and soldiers essential for the Army to fight and win wars and respond to homeland emergencies on behalf of the American people.
Roper has more than 30 years of military service. He was deployed during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and again during Operation Enduring Freedom, where he served as the military spokesman for all U.S. Army forces in Afghanistan.
He also is the recipient of numerous military awards and decorations, including the Bronze Star and the General MacArthur Leadership Award, which is given annually to the top U.S. Army officers in the nation.
Named Birmingham’s police chief in 2007, Roper announced in November 2017 he would be stepping down following the election Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, who asked all department heads to reapply for their positions. The deadline was Nov. 13, and the 54-year-old Roper said he and his family chose not to do so after a considerable amount of prayer. He left the job officially in April.
Roper on Friday told AL.com he has the initial Pentagon assignment for one year. He and his wife, Edith, will maintain their Birmingham area home but have a condominium near the Pentagon where he can walk to work every day. “It will surely be a different lifestyle for us, but my family is excited and my wife is ready to decorate and make it our northern home,” Roper said.
Roper said the U.S. Army Reserve has transitioned from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve and that’s placed a greater demand on soldiers, their families and employers.
“After serving as a field commander totally focused on the readiness of my command, in this position, my role is two-fold. As the Deputy Chief, Army Reserve, my focus is strategy and policy development, planning, programming, and resourcing at the national, departmental, and service levels,” he said. “I also have a secondary responsibility for the coordination, integration, and synchronization of our staff within the Headquarters Department of the Army Staff. The key is accomplishing the chief’s vision by integrating Army Reserve force capabilities in support of the nation and ensuring we set the conditions for long term success.”
“As a product of the Birmingham School System, I fondly remember my four years in JROTC at Phillips High School where I received a certain satisfaction and fulfillment in wearing my uniform and learning the lessons of leadership,” he said. “I still remember my three instructors and their impact on my life. I then received my Army commission in 1983 at UAB but I had no idea the journey would take me all over the world, including several deployments.”
Roper said it has been an honor serving the community for 33 years as a police officer, but also serving his country for 35 years as a soldier.
“The Birmingham Police Department benefited from my Army Reserve training and experiences. For example, I led the Army Reserve command that specializes in responding to homeland disasters so when the tornados struck our area, I fully understood the coordination required to synchronize the additional support that flowed into our area,” he said. “I also understood what questions to ask and could mentor my team on the process, so the lessons are enduring.”
Since leaving the Birmingham Police Department, Roper said he’s been teaching leadership, ethics and decision making to law enforcement professionals all over the country. “These are challenging times in policing, so we have to lead our way through the chaos, mistrust and dialogue on policing and race relations in America and there is no better example than Birmingham,” he said.
“I have truly been blessed to serve with amazing men and women in the blue uniform here in Birmingham and the green uniform all over the nation so this new Army assignment is another chapter in my life’s destiny,” he said. “I’ve always believed that God has a plan for our lives so when one door closed another door opened.”
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