The Pentagon announced on Wednesday the new commanders for the 1st Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division, the longtime Germany-based tank and infantry behemoths now facing return to the United States.

Maj. Gen. Fred Robinson Jr. will command the 1st AD likely beginning sometime in the next couple of months and lead those troops as they head back to Iraq early next year. Robinson is already familiar with the command: He was assistant division commander for training and operations from July 2002 to July 2003 — and even filled in briefly as division commander at the end of his assignment.

He took over when the 1st AD was in Iraq, “in combat, not sitting around watching the grass grow,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Tucker, assistant division commander for maneuver.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hunzeker will take over the 1st ID in June.

Hunzeker has spent his last two assignments at planning positions at the Pentagon. For the past two years, he was vice director for force structure, resources and assessment with the Joint Staff. Before that, he was deputy director of program analysis and evaluation with the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff.

Hunzeker will lead the 1st ID back to bases in the United States beginning next year, if current plans hold, as part of the Army’s transformation effort to modernize and streamline the force.

The division’s soldiers, who returned earlier this year from Iraq, are the first of some 38,000 Europe-based U.S. soldiers planned to decamp from longtime German bases over the next five to 10 years as the Army changes to become swifter and leaner.

The 1st AD, which is approaching its second tour in Iraq since 2003, is expected to follow about two years later, according to an earlier statement from Gen. B.B. Bell, commander of U.S. Army Europe.

Bell — as well as the V Corps commander, Maj. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez — was out of town and could not be reached for comment, according to USAREUR public affairs officials.

Robinson replaces Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, while Hunzeker replaces Maj. Gen. John Batiste. Neither of the departing generals’ upcoming assignments was disclosed.

Robinson went through ROTC at the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Like Hunzeker, he holds a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the National Defense University.

Robinson’s most recent assignment was at the Pentagon as director of operations, readiness and mobilization for the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff.

Promoted to major general last May, Robinson had spent 6½ years in Germany, twice in various positions with the 3rd Infantry Division and again, in 2002, with the 1st AD.

Robinson is “a good pick” for 1st AD commander because of his history with the division, said Tucker, who succeeded Robinson as assistant division commander in 2003. “He’s an excellent trainer. He’s an excellent tanker. And that’s why he’s been sent to take over America’s tank division.”

Hunzeker began his military career at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His first assignment, as a second lieutenant in 1975, was with the 2nd Armored Division in Germany and Texas. He is the son of a major general, William Hunzeker.

Neither Robinson nor Hunzeker could be reached for comment.

Stars and Stripes reporter Terry Boyd contributed to this report.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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