WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. — In a brief and upbeat ceremony, Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin assumed command of White Sands Missile Range before military and community leaders Wednesday morning.
Coffin, who has served in the Army for more than 32 years, replaces Paul Mann, WSMR's executive director. Mann, the installation's top ranking civilian employee, was in command for about a month. Mann took over for Maj. Gen. Gwen Bingham, who had been assigned to a leadership position in Michigan.
Coffin is the "ideal leader" of WSMR, said Maj. Gen. Peter D. Utley, commanding general of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, which oversees WSMR's operations.
Utley touted Coffin's experience.
Coffin, 55, comes to New Mexico from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, where he served as deputy commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space at the U.S. Strategic Command.
He also served as a deputy commanding general at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Alabama.
Coffin and his wife, Kristy, toured WSMR in May. His assignment was announced in April, when officials said Bingham was leaving.
"We look forward to getting to know each and everyone of you, get a chance to explore the community around here, and to participate as a team in doing great things for our nation," Coffin said in a short introduction speech to the crowd gathered outside WSMR's Frontier Club.
He called WSMR a "national treasure."
Mann thanked Utley for the temporary leadership opportunity, and expressed excitement for the new commander.
Quipped Mann: "I'm pretty sure the rest of the nation will celebrate the occasion with fireworks in the next few days."
After the ceremony, Coffin and his family greeted those in attendance in a receiving line that stretched outside the Frontier Club.