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Fort Drum, 10th Mountain Division sees large leadership turnover in 2012

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FORT DRUM — Despite high turnover in leadership in the last year, observers of the post spoke positively about the 10th Mountain Division’s outlook for 2013.

Perhaps the highlight of the year’s turnover was the assignment and promotion of Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, who had led the 10th Mountain Division for only about a year. In most cases, the post’s commanders had stayed for two years. Before Gen. Milley, the post’s previous commander, Gen. James L. Terry, stayed more than two years.

Gen. Milley left late last month to take over Fort Hood, Texas, and its III Corps.

Gen. Milley was replaced by Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, who previously had been director of the Pakistan and Afghanistan Coordination Cell Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. The assignment was Gen. Townsend’s third to the post, after stints from 2000 to 2002 and 2003 to 2004.

F. Anthony Keating, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, said the changes may have been more dramatic because the post previously had seen more stability than usual.

“It was kind of a surprise to have them yanked away, so to speak,” he said.

Several other top division leaders left during the course of the year, in time lines that were more traditionally linked to the position. Brig. Gen. Richard D. Clarke, deputy commanding general of operations, was assigned to become commandant of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He will be replaced by Col. Mark J. O’Neil, who in mid-December was nominated for promotion to general.

In July, Col. Gary A. Rosenberg was introduced as the post’s new garrison commander, replacing Col. Noel T. Nicolle. Col. Walter E. Piatt in July replaced Brig. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl as the division’s deputy commanding general for support, while Col. Thomas D. Macdonald replaced Col. Erik C. Peterson as division chief of staff.

Carl A. McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, said he couldn’t remember a year with as much turnover as 2012.

“That’s where the Army said they were needed, and so that’s where they went,” he said.

The post’s 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams will deploy to Afghanistan early next year, and at his change of command ceremony, Gen. Townsend noted that other brigades may see deployments through the coming year.

Both Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Keating said the division’s leadership was in good hands for the coming year.

“We’re in excellent shape,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

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