Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr. plans to spend the next 30 to 60 days assessing the First Army Division West before looking at what can be done to take the unit to the next level.
“You don’t rush that kind of thing,” Phipps said. “Like every commander, you want to make an assessment of the unit and see where we are and carry on the great work that Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins has done. I’m extremely impressed with the talent within the division and looking to see where we have to go next.”
Wiggins relinquished his position to incoming commander Phipps at a ceremony Jan. 23 at Cameron Field. Wiggins is moving to Fort Sam Houston, where he will serve as deputy commander of U.S. Army North.
Wiggins was amazed at the division’s achievements during his 16 months as commanding general and said those accomplishments are a testament to the leadership at Fort Hood.
“You’d like to be a little selfish and think it was all you, but really, all those things are on the shoulders of those soldiers ... and I’m proud of them,” he said.
Division West, a subordinate unit of First Army, trains and validates Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers for deployment to combat and other contingency operations. Three of the division’s eight subordinate training brigades are at Fort Hood.
Under Wiggins’ leadership, the unit deployed the first organization from First Army to a combat zone since World War II. The division also trained 69 joint units, mobilized more than 23,000 soldiers in 360 units and demobilized more than 35,000 soldiers in 400 units.
Wiggins said he’s confident he’s leaving the unit in capable hands.
“(Phipps) is a visionary leader with foresight and integrity, and he’s the perfect fit for Division West. I know he will take the division to new heights,” Wiggins said.
Phipps is no newcomer to Fort Hood. In previous assignments to the post, he was a company comander and served with the 6th Cavarly Brigade.
After more than two decades, Phipps returned to Fort Hood to take command of the division.
He and his wife, Sylvia, are glad to be back at “The Great Place.” They moved to Fort Hood Jan. 18 from the Washington, D.C., where he served as deputy director for regional operations of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon. Although the area has grown since his last assignment at Fort Hood, Phipps is looking forward to continuing to strengthen the relationship with the surrounding communities.
“I can’t say how elevated Sylvia and I are to be back at Fort Hood and be able to reach out to the communities,” Phipps said. “This area is renowned for its love of country and its patriotism and we really are blessed to have such great support here at Fort Hood.”
Phipps will spend the next month familiarizing himself with the unit before implementing innovative ways to enhance the eight brigades under his command while staying committed to providing the best-trained combat ready units.
He plans to talk with key officers and leadership to discuss what challenges they face.
“I’m going to go out and (see what their) concerns are and then compile all that together and then lay out that long-term strategy on those key points of what we need to do,” Phipps said. “Likewise (I’ll touch) base with my commander ... and make sure I’m in sync with his vision and where he sees the unit going.”
The challenges the nation faces fiscally are well documented, Phipps said. “We have to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars.”
He said his long-term goal is to continue to be innovative and make sure the division is efficient without compromising the Army standards.
“We owe it to our nation and our Army to ensure that we provide those best-trained units, that any soldier we put in harm’s way, he’s got all the faculties to set him up for success once he’s deployed.”
He pledged to advance the ideals of Army values, including selfless service and caring for soldiers, civilians and their families.
“No matter what challenges may arise, we will remain committed to providing the best-trained combat training units for deployment to any theater of operations,” Phipps said. “I am humbled by this responsibility and I am truly honored to join you in this noble endeavor.”