FORT HOOD — Fort Hood was always home for Col. Sven Erichsen, who on Tuesday took command of the 48th Chemical Brigade after more than five years at the Pentagon.
“Today is the day I thought would never come,” Erichsen said.
Before leaving in 2002, Erichsen spent more than half his career at Fort Hood, serving in both the 1st Cavalry Division and the 13th Sustainment Command.
“After spending time in (Washington) D.C., it is great to be back in Texas,” he said.
Col. Maria Zumwalt and Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Graham relinquished command and responsibility of the 48th Chemical Brigade to Erichsen and Command Sgt. Maj. Kendall Owens in a dual change-of-command and change of responsibility ceremony at Fort Hood’s Cameron Field.
Erichsen brings 25 years of Army experience and two master’s degrees in military leadership to his new post.
Reviewing officer Brig. Gen. James Burton, commander of the 20th Support Command, joked about leaving behind the notorious Washington D.C.-area traffic — something Erichsen will not miss while at Fort Hood.
“(Erichsen) was extremely excited about the three-minute commute,” Burton said.
Erichsen will now only have to drive a few miles from his family’s home on post to the 48th Chemical Brigade headquarters.
The 48th Chemical Brigade is responsible for discovering and neutralizing chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, threats, both foreign and domestic.
Battalions in the 48th Chemical Brigade are spread across the nation — in Georgia, Washington, Maryland and Texas, as well as Korea.
“They do what others cannot do, and they go where other people do not want to go and they do so with strength and dignity,” Burton said.
The brigade’s wide positioning enables it to respond to CBRNE threats “anywhere at anytime,” outgoing commander Zumwalt said.
During Zumwalt’s command, soldiers in the 48th Chemical Brigade deployed to Korea, where they led training in neutralizing weapons of mass destruction, which the commander called “one of the most dangerous threats to national security.”
She recalled her surprise upon first arriving in Korea’s tense political environment.
“Somehow we didn’t get the memo, that traveling in uniform was not permitted,” Zumwalt said. “As soon as we stepped off the plane, we had Army, Korean police surrounding us.”
A Puerto Rico native, Zumwalt’s next assignment will be chief of staff of detainee operations, Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-435 in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.