More than 25,000 Pikes Peak region soldiers got a new boss Thursday during a change of command ceremony at Fort Carson.
Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, who has commanded the post since November 2011, handed off to Maj. Gen. Paul LaCamera, an Army Ranger who will lead Fort Carson and its 4th Infantry Division.
Anderson told hundreds of soldiers who stood in formation on a parade field for the ceremony and a crowd of dignitaries in the stands that he’ll miss the community and the soldiers he led.
“I have not seen community support of this caliber anywhere else in the country,” Anderson said.
He also thanked the soldiers of the division, saying they’d “never faltered.”
LaCamera, who came to Fort Carson from Fort Bragg, N.C., where he served as deputy commander of Army Special Operations Command, pledged to build on Anderson’s success.
“I stand on the shoulders of giants, and it is an awesome view,” LaCamera said.
Anderson is headed to Fort Bragg, where he’ll serve as special assistant to the commanding general of Army Forces Command. The position is “typically designed for senior officers who are awaiting further assignment,” said George Wright, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.
During his time at Fort Carson, Anderson drove several programs aimed at improving the lives of soldiers and their families.
The post began its Transition University, which helps prepare separating soldiers for life in the civilian sector. Fort Carson also opened the Resiliency Campus, which features a fitness center, behavioral health clinic and child development center.
LaCamera said the post is on the right path.
“We are different people, so there will be change,” LaCamera said. “But we are not going to turn this thing around 180 degrees.”
On Thursday El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey called Anderson a leader with an outstretched hand.
“When people came back, if they needed help, he was very careful to make sure they didn’t get kicked aside,” said Hisey, whose district includes Fort Carson. “You have to be impressed with someone who takes care of his own.”
“To his credit, he was still able to play with us on the outside,” added Hisey, who worked with Anderson on the development of the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex — a 400-acre public shooting range on Army land. The complex, the first of its kind, involved efforts from the Army, El Paso County along with federal and state agencies.
Anderson a is “dynamic commander” who will be sorely missed, said Don Addy, chairman of the nonprofit Colorado Thirty Group, which works to smooth relations between the military and Colorado communities.
“He’s transformed the 4th Infantry Division into a very effective organization,” Addy said. “He’s had a very broad and very positive impact on the community as well.”