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Fort Drum welcomes in rear commander

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FORT DRUM — As the 10th Mountain Division headquarters prepares for deployment early next year, the post welcomed the man who will lead the post and the division’s local operations while it is away.

Brig. Gen. Michael L. Howard, the division’s rear detachment commander, said he would continue leading the post the same way as the current commander, Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend.

“I’m not going to let you down,” Gen. Howard said to Gen. Townsend. “I’m not going to let Fort Drum down.”

The rear commander arrives on post with several years of experience within the division, after a previous assignment from May 2003 to July 2007.

During that time, he commanded the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and was the division’s senior rear planning officer. Gen. Howard also assumed command of the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team following the May 2006 death of Lt. Col. Joseph J. Fenty in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, an incident in which nine other soldiers also died.

Before arriving on post for his new role, Gen. Howard was the director of future operations for the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan.

Gen. Howard described the role and his return to post as an honor and a privilege.

Early next year, the division headquarters will deploy with about 630 personnel for a yearlong mission in eastern Afghanistan, leading operations for Regional Command East.

While he and the command are away, Gen. Townsend said, some of Gen. Howard’s responsibilities will be overseeing the reset of the returning 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams from their deployments in Afghanistan, seeing off the 10th Sustainment Brigade for its deployment and supporting already deployed units from the 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams.

“He’s got broad shoulders,” Gen. Townsend said. “He’s up to the task.”

Among Gen. Howard’s awards are the Combat Infantryman Badge with star, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab.

He comes to the post with his wife, Esther; the couple has three children, Abigail, Ryan and Matthew.

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