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Fort Drum welcomes new 10th Mountain Division commander at ceremony

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FORT DRUM — The post’s new commanding general said he was excited to be back in the north country as he took over leadership Monday morning of the 10th Mountain Division.

“This is home for me and my family,” Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend said. “It feels great to be back.”

The assignment to post is his third. From 2000 to 2002, Gen. Townsend was commander of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and he was the 10th Division’s assistant chief of staff from June 2003 to July 2004.

He replaces Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to be promoted to lieutenant general and to lead Fort Hood, Texas, and its III Corps. The nomination has not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The movement replicates Gen. Townsend’s assignment in 2009 as deputy commanding general of operations for the 101st Aviation Division, Fort Campbell, Ky., when he also succeeded Gen. Milley.

“It’s déjà vu all over again,” Gen. Townsend said, echoing the famous quote from New York Yankees great Yogi Berra.

Gen. Townsend said his first job is to get up to speed on the division’s operations as several thousand soldiers from its 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams prepare to deploy to Afghanistan in a security force assistance role.

Gen. Townsend told attendees at a change-of-command ceremony that he would maintain the division’s readiness and lead by example.

Gen. Townsend, who arrived in the area late Saturday, said he had to return to the Washington, D.C., area to pack up his family’s belongings before returning within the next week.

Several hundred people attended the ceremony in the Magrath Sports Complex, including several local and state legislators and regional military representatives.

Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, N.C., praised Gen. Milley for his outreach to the community and his work preparing soldiers for a wide range of missions.

“Every time, this division’s superbly regimented troopers delivered, on time, on target and with absolute mission success,” he said. Earlier in the morning, Gen. Allyn presented Gen. Milley with a Distinguished Service Medal.

Gen. Milley thanked several members of the division command, soldiers, volunteers and civilian leadership in attendance, along with his wife, Hollyanne. In his remarks, Gen. Allyn said Mrs. Milley had completed more than 900 hours of volunteer work in her year on post.

Gen. Milley has been on post since November 2011, and several speakers noted that such a quick movement was less common than the usual two-year assignment. Gen. Milley acknowledged he didn’t think he would be around for only a year and said receiving the new assignment was bittersweet.

“When the call comes, the call comes,” he said. “You ruck up and move on. It’s been a privilege.”

During the ceremonial passing of the division’s colors, Gen. Milley paused for a moment before passing the flag to Gen. Allyn, who then passed it to Gen. Townsend.

“I don’t want to let it go,” Gen. Milley said.

As the ceremony came to a close, a soldier from the honor guard fainted and was helped from the floor by medical staff. The unidentified soldier was reported in good condition a few minutes later.






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