The two-star general assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord last year to build a new division headquarters is getting a promotion and will become the Army’s highest-ranking officer at the base, the Army announced Wednesday.
Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander of the 7th Infantry Division, will succeed Lt. Gen. Robert Brown in the next few months as commander of Lewis-McChord’s I Corps.
“I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to continue to serve our great Army and continue to be part of the great team here at JBLM and the South Sound community,” Lanza said.
Brown, a former Fort Lewis Stryker brigade commander, took charge of the corps in July 2012 and pivoted its focus from the war in Afghanistan to challenges along the Pacific Rim.
Lanza followed Brown to Lewis-McChord in October 2012, when the Army activated a local division headquarters for the first time in nearly two decades to manage seven of the 10 brigades that have sprouted up at the base since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.
Lanza was charged with mentoring battalion and brigade commanders, launching initiatives to improve discipline and orchestrating training for more than 20,000 soldiers under his headquarters.
“At the end of the day, we just wanted to be the Army’s 11th division,” he told The News Tribune in an interview last month. “We just wanted to be accepted, transparent and collaborative.”
Previously, Lewis-McChord brigade leaders reported directly to I Corps, skipping a layer in the Army’s normal chain of command.
Bringing the 7th Infantry Division to Lewis-McChord has been “huge,” Brown told The News Tribune on Tuesday. “It’s had the biggest impact on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the last 20 years.”
Brown said the division command freed his headquarters to spend more time developing relationships with allies in Australia and South Korea. The corps command is departing soon for another exercise in Japan.
The corps’ largest exercise under Brown’s command took place in July in Australia. It signaled that the corps could be called on to deploy as an Army headquarters under the leadership of the Navy-led Pacific Command.
Those responsibilities are the traditional focus of a corps command, which is supposed to look outward to foreign challenges while a division commander looks down the ranks to develop deployable units.
Brown will move on to lead the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., which develops Army leaders.
He has frequently traveled overseas since taking command of the corps, but he had more time in the states than his two predecessors, Gens. Charles Jacoby and Curtis Scaparrotti. Jacoby took the corps to Iraq in 2009-10, and Scaparrotti was the No. 2 commander in Afghanistan in 2011-12.
Over the past year and a half, Brown has emphasized team building, suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention and helping soldiers leaving the Army gain a foothold in the civilian world.
He also held open meetings outside of the base to explain how the Army’s plans to shrink its ranks of active-duty soldiers could impact the South Sound economy.
Lanza will oversee the Army presence at the largest military installation on the West Coast, which also happens to be Pierce County’s largest employer. It’s unknown how long he will remain in the post, but command rotations generally last at least 18 months.
Top-level general tenures at Lewis-McChord have been getting shorter. Brown will be the second consecutive I Corps commander to spend less than two years in the South Sound; before that, their assignments tended to last two to three years.
Prior to coming to Lewis-McChord, Lanza was the chief of Army public affairs at the Pentagon. He commanded a Texas-based brigade in Iraq as a colonel. Lanza returned to Iraq as a one-star general managing strategic communications and working with the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government on stabilization efforts.
Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646