White Sands Missile Range to Get New Garrison Commander

White Sands Missile Range (U.S. Army photo)
White Sands Missile Range (U.S. Army photo)

LAS CRUCES -- For the second time in less than a week, changes in military leadership at White Sands Missile Range have been announced.

Wednesday, Army Col. Dave Brown was named as the new garrison commander at White Sands Missile Range. Brown will succeed Col. Brian Michelson, who has been WSMR's garrison commander since July 22, 2013.

A Change of Command ceremony, where Michelson will transfer the leadership of WSMR's garrison to Brown, will be at 9 a.m. June 7 at WSMR Memorial Park.

"My spouse, Christina, and I look forward to our assignment at White Sands Missile Range," said Brown, in a WSMR press release. "I am excited and honored to take command of the Army garrison this summer, and to the challenge of supporting the installation and Army Test and Evaluation Command mission."

On March 17, Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and U.S. Department of Defense officials announced Brig. Gen. Eric L. Sanchez, a 1987 graduate of New Mexico State University will become WSMR's next commander. Sanchez will succeed Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin.

Sanchez said he, too, is excited about his new assignment at WSMR. He is anticipated to arrive at WSMR this summer. Currently, Sanchez is the commander of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

"I am humbled by the privilege to command White Sands Missile Range," said Sanchez, in a separate WSMR press release. "I have a lot of roots in the Las Cruces community as a New Mexico State University graduate, and my wife, Teresa, is a Mesilla native. WSMR is vital to today's Army, as well as the Department of Defense, and I look forward to being part of the WSMR team that continues to test, evaluate and train to bring our troops home to their families."

Army officials have not yet announced the next military assignments for Coffin and Michelson.

Brown will come to WSMR from Panzer Kaserne, Germany where he has served as the deputy commander of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command since June 2015. As garrison commander, Brown's position will be similar to mayor of an incorporated community.

"The team at WSMR has an exquisite reputation for delivering support, taking care of soldiers and their families, as well as the extended Army family team," Brown said. The climate will be much different from my current post in Germany, but a nice change that's definitely welcome. I look forward to serving alongside the exceptional professionals at WSMR as they deliver capability to the nation. Our strength and edge is our people, and I'm eager to meet as many WSMR teammates as quickly as possible."

Brown was commissioned in 1991 through the University of Delaware's Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps. He has a Master of Arts degree from Webster University and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Air Force Air University. During his 24-year career he has served in command and staff positions in the U.S., Honduras, Germany, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Brown is also a highly decorated soldier. He has been bestowed the Bronze Star four times during his 24-year Army career. Three times Brown has earned the Meritorious Service Medal, and twice presented with the NATO Medal.

Brown has also been awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge, Expert Infantryman's Badge, Ranger Tab and Parachutists Badge.

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