CHIÈVRES, Belgium — It’s a sign of the times — and of the humor and practicality of the outgoing commander of U.S. Army Garrison Benelux.

After the ceremonial passing of the unit guidon Thursday, Col. Dean A. Nowowiejski handed his successor, Col. James P. Drago, the commander’s BlackBerry. The relinquishment of the hand-size, wireless computer and phone elicited a wave of laughter from the dais to the doorway of the community activity center at Chièvres Air Base.

Nowowiejski, an old tank commander, leaves after three years to work directly for the three-star general who heads up the Installation Management Command at the Pentagon.

While his predecessor comes from an armored background, Drago, a West Point graduate, worked his way through the Army ranks as an artillery officer. Drago has had two previous tours in Europe: as a fire support officer and battery commander for the 3rd Armored Division at Kirch-Göns; and as commander of the 409th Base Support Battalion in Vilseck.

Prior to assuming command of USAG Benelux, the colonel spent 11 months in Kuwait with the operations directorate for Coalition Forces Land Component Command. His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster.

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