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Outgoing commanders will be missed, new ones welcome
News editorial
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Maj. Gen. Robert B. Abrams officially took command of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield from Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo during a change-of-command ceremony Friday on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field. After nearly three years as commander, Cucolo passed the division’s colors and responsibilities to Abrams, who we expect will continue to do a great job of leading our troops and overseeing the installation.
As he departs this duty station, Gen. Cucolo should be commended for setting high standards of leadership and service. His commitment to excellence and sound leadership skills have earned him the respect and admiration of this community. He worked hard with Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Ashmen, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton and former Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, who left last fall, to unite the local civilian and military communities, keep the public informed of the 3rd ID’s missions and progress, and promote the health and well-being of soldiers and their families.
When he wasn’t deployed to Iraq — guiding U.S. forces operating in seven provinces north of Baghdad — Cucolo often could be found at community events on and around Fort Stewart. Cucolo, Ashmen, Phillips and Milton never were too busy to shake a hand, greet a local resident or chat for a moment. Their genuine kindness and concern for those they served and those who served them was — and still is — worthy of our respect and gratitude.
For those who choose military service, encouragement and positive influence are of utmost importance. The lives of soldiers and their families aren’t easy. Troops regularly are assigned to new duty stations. They move their spouses and children across the nation — often more than once — to start new assignments and continue their careers. These changes certainly are difficult for military families. Fort Stewart’s outgoing leadership devoted countless hours and resources to making sure soldiers and their families felt welcome and cared for.
Abrams and Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson likely will waste no time picking up where Cucolo and his staff left off, and Liberty County is looking forward to supporting the new commander as he becomes acquainted with our community.
Abrams, a Texas native, has served in the Army since 1982 and has been awarded the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and a plethora of other commendations. Given his outstanding record and decorated past, it’s clear Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield will prosper under the new major general’s watch.
If the leadership Abrams has provided during his past assignments is any indication, our community can look forward to working with a soldier who is thoughtful and thorough in his decision-making process. When he took charge of the National Training Center in 2009, the new Fort Irwin commanding general told the Desert Dispatch that he planned to use his first 30 days on post to make assessments and look for things to improve. He said he would not walk in on day one and make changes.
“That’s not my style,” he told the Dispatch.
So thank you to Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield’s outgoing leaders and their supportive families: Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo and his wife, Ginger; Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Ashmen and his wife, Wanda; and Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips. We are grateful for your service and wish you well in the future.
Maj. Gen. Abrams, welcome to our community. We’re happy to have you and Command Sgt. Maj. Watson.

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