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Fort Drum welcomes deputy commanding general


FORT DRUM — As the post welcomed its new deputy commanding general of support, its outgoing general spoke positively about his year on the post and was praised for his work by the 10th Mountain Division’s commander.

Col. Carl A. Alex will serve in the role, taking over from Gen. Walter E. Piatt, who will become commanding general of the Joint Multinational Training Command, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, based in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

The leadership change became official at a ceremony Wednesday morning.

During his remarks, Col. Alex said he was humbled to be following Gen. Piatt into the position, and he looked forward to serving in the division and living in the north country.

He previously served as deputy chief legislative liaison in the office of Chief Legislative Liaison at the Pentagon. He was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Oleysa, and son Charles, 3, who climbed onto his father’s lap during Gen. Piatt’s remarks.

Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the division’s commander, said his new deputy had experience at every level of military leadership. He added they met in the early 1990s while in the 3rd Ranger Battalion and had multiple connections throughout their careers.

Gen. Townsend said he expected a promotion announcement for Col. Alex to brigadier general to come soon.

Gen. Piatt, who arrived in July, said he was grateful for his time on the post and learned it was “OK to be an optimist” when it came to planning because of the division’s capabilities.

Gen. Townsend praised Gen. Piatt for going above and beyond his duties, highlighting his efforts to work with the post’s medical command and ready units to head to the New York City area following Tropical Storm Sandy.

The major general, who predicted Gen. Piatt would likely receive his second and third stars, said when he talked to junior soldiers about Gen. Piatt, the words he often heard describing him were coach, teacher and mentor.

“I can’t think of better words for soldiers to describe their leader,” Gen. Townsend said.

Calling on the famous quote by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee after the death of Stonewall Jackson, Gen. Townsend said losing his deputy was like losing his right arm.

Gen. Piatt said after the ceremony the new assignment is the 19th move for him and his wife, Cynthia, who have two children, Jessica and Joshua.

Asked by a television reporter after the ceremony about the Department of Defense’s plan to place women in combat units, Gen. Piatt called the change a positive step.

The division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team was one of nine brigades at six installations nationwide picked last year for a pilot program of women in combat duties, a role Gen. Piatt called a “point of pride.”

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