New bosses on base

USARAK, ALCOM undergo leadership changes


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There’s a pair of new generals on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson after a pair of change of command ceremonies in recent weeks.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Russell J. Handy became the commander of Alaskan Command (ALCOM) in an Aug. 9 ceremony. As commander, he’ll be in charge of the more than 26,000 soldiers, airmen, sailors and reservists stationed in Alaska.

Handy is also the new commander of 11th Air Force and Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region. He replaces Lt. Gen. Stephen Hoog, who was in command since since November 2011.

Handy most recently served as Director of Staff for Headquarters Pacific Air Forces at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

During his remarks at the ceremony, Handy said he was excited to be taking over the unified command.

“It’s humbling to stand up here with all you heroes and with all the men and women of this diverse command,” Handy said. “To be given the opportunity to command at all is a privilege, and an incredible honor.”

Hoog will move to Washington, D.C., where he’ll become Assistant Vice Chief of Staff and Director, Air Staff, U.S. Air Force, at the Pentagon.

The U.S. Army Alaska (USARAK) also has a new commander after Maj. Gen. Michael Shields took over from Maj. Gen Michael Garrett during a ceremony held July 30.

Shields most recently served as director of Pakistan/Afghanistan Coordination Cell, J-5, Joint Staff, in Washington, D.C. He’s previously served in Alaska as commander of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright. He led the brigade durining its first combat deployment during Operation Iraqi freedom.

In addition to serving as USARAK commander, Shields will assume the position of deputy commander of Alaska Command.

Garrett spent 14 months leading USARAK. His next assignment will be at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, where he’ll serve as Chief of Staff for U.S. Central Command, one of nine combatant commands in the U.S. military.

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