Welcoming the new Brigade Commander to Ft. Bliss
Story and photos by: Ricky J. Carrasco
On Monday, a Change of Command ceremony was held on Fort Bliss’ Bulldog Field to introduce Col. Christopher C. LaNeve as the new unit commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division “Bulldog Brigade”. Outgoing commander Col. Mark H. Landes assumed control of the brigade in 2011 and oversaw deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in that time.
Ft. Bliss Commander Major General Dana Pittard thanked all for their attendance, including civilian aid to the Secretary of the Army Tom Thomas, the extended families of both soldiers, and all the Army soldiers present. Pittard thanked Landes for training the Bulldogs to be “fit, motivated and offensively minded,” adding that the brigade was a “fine example of counter insurgency success in Operation Enduring Freedom.” He also thank Landes’ wife, Morri, for being active within the Ft. Bliss and El Paso community.
Col Landes served with the brigade, stationed in Ft Bliss and while deployed in eastern Afghanistan, for two years. This will be his last role as a combat team leader. He will be moving on to Pennsylvania to serve in the US Army War College starting this summer. He thanked General Pittard for having “an open command environment” and thanked his soldiers “who refused to accept any outcome other than victory.” He also thanked the city of El Paso for welcoming his family so warmly to this position. He told a story where he found one of his soldiers in Afghanistan in a foxhole. “I asked the soldier if he needed anything. The soldier said no, ‘I got food, water, and ammo. That’s everything I need.'” He told the crowd of civilians and soldiers that story reminded him of his responsibilities. “We lost 26 soldiers in Task Force Bulldog, 22 in combat operations in Afghanistan. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember their sacrifice.”
Col. Christopher LaNeve comes from his previous command in the 82nd Airborne Division out of Ft. Bragg to join the Bulldogs, having served in various infantry divisions over his career. General Pittard recounted the story that LaNeve had just left his office in the Pentagon on 9/11 a few minutes before American Airlines Flight 77 hit the building, killing those still in his section.
The change of command ceremonies involved handing the colors of the brigade from the outgoing commander to the new commander, along with the leash to PV2 Gunner D. Chester VI, the official mascot of the brigade since the 1962. “That’s the first time I’ve ever been handed a dog in an official ceremony,” LaNeve joked to the crowd.
LaNeve was overjoyed to coming to the area. “It’s a great day to join this incredible brigade combat team. The soldiers that stand here represent all that is good in America. I am looking forward to carrying on the traditions of the Armored Division, Team Bliss and the nation.”
LaNeve will be deploying the brigade back to Afghanistan this summer in transition operations after Enduring Freedom.