82nd gets new leader


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice

Maj. Gen. Mike Scaparrotti on Wednesday took command of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 22,000 soldiers as they prepare to return to Iraq and Afghanistan and respond to the nation’s unpredictable emergencies.

“It is my great honor to join your ranks again,” Scaparrotti said in his remarks at the ceremony on Fort Bragg’s Pike Field.

Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the commander of Fort Bragg and the 18th Airborne Corps, presided at the ceremony.

“He is the kind of officer that everyone wants on his team,” Austin said. “He is the type of man that mothers and fathers would like leading their sons and daughters.”

The three-star general is temporarily back at Fort Bragg during his 15-month stint as commander of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq.

Paratroopers from the division’s 3rd Brigade, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which Austin once commanded, were not on the field. The entire unit is on vacation in advance of its upcoming deployment to Iraq.

“We in Iraq will certainly look forward to having them on our team when they arrive,” he said.

Scaparrotti, 52, was born and grew up in Logan, Ohio. He graduated from West Point in 1978. In 2004, he returned to West Point as the 69th commandant of cadets.

His first assignment as an infantry lieutenant was in the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. Two decades later, he came back to the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment as the commander. He departed Fort Bragg less than three months before the 9/11 attacks.

The past seven years have brought change to the Army and the All American Division. The Army has changed its focus from divisions of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers to brigades of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers that are more self-sufficient and can more easily be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We now have four brigade combat teams instead of just three,” Scaparrotti said after the ceremony. The division has grown from 15,000 soldiers to more than 22,000.

“It’s larger,” he said. “It’s more lethal, but the one thing’s the same is paratroopers.”

Division officials said there were 8,000 to 9,000 of those soldiers in maroon berets standing in formation on the field.

“It’s remarkable that over the last two years there are only two months that the division has been all together at Fort Bragg,” Austin said. “For a few months last year, the only elements of the 82nd left here at Fort Bragg were rear detachments and a few companies. The rest of the division was in a combat zone, either in Iraq or Afghanistan.”

Before returning to the 82nd, Scaparrotti was director of operations of U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military activity in the Middle East from its headquarters at Tampa, Fla. He replaced David Rodriguez, who departed on July 21 to become senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Austin, who was in Iraq when Rodriguez departed, hailed his work in Afghanistan. Brig. Gen. Rodney Anderson has been in charge of the division since the departure of Rodriguez.

“He spent the last three years as the deputy (commander) for support with the last year of that tenure spent in Afghanistan,” Austin said. “If fighting the war in Afghanistan was Rodney’s day job in the division, his night job was transforming the division into the modular structure that we have today. There isn’t a single leader that had more effect on the division’s transformation than Gen. Rodney Anderson.”

The Army usually undertakes such reorganizations only every two decades, and rarely when it is at war, Austin said.

“Rodney made the impossible seem easy,” Austin said.
He was a well-liked commandant of cadets up at my alma mater on the Hudson. A real even keel straight shooter. Stopped to chat with him at the airport as I was traveling to attend selection this summer. Well liked amongst the instructors and TACs as well. I'm glad he got Division Command.
I remember when I stood on the field 1 year, we had a couple guys pass out ( parade field syncope ) / with fixed bayonets and was dragged to the tree line to the camoflauge aid station. I did get a chance to pull aid station duty once. It was fun.

Wasn't at this one, but it usually takes 40 Minutes from the time the first Paratrooper passes in review until the last (and that's not even half of the whole division). Let's not even talk about trooping the line. And the Chorus selection. My feet hurt less after a 20K RM. Though Division CoC does make for an awesome "sound adjutant's call!" Run, Forrest, run! :)

Stop bitching, trooper! All of us who have worn the "little maroon rag" on our heads have had to do it. ;):)

MG Scaparrotti is a good dude. I'm glad for him and for the Division.
I was glad that our A.O. was less than 3 miles from Pike field. Other units had to hump a distance to get there. I did not like running in jumpboots but what the hell. I was just telling a war story to one of our young guys that wants to be Navy regarding how we used to sling our 16's close to our shoulders and how our shoulders would go numb. You had to watch for the guy in front of you to make sure he didn't skewered with the bayonet when he fell backwards. Good times.