Maj. Gen. Brian Mennes becomes new Fort Drum commander
By CRAIG FOX | Watertown Daily Times | Published: May 2, 2019
FORT DRUM (Tribune News Service) — On the day he took the reins, the new commander of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division said it was like coming home.
Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, who grew up near Buffalo, took over Fort Drum’s military leadership during a Change of Command ceremony on Wednesday morning.
“I couldn’t be happier to be a member of the team,” he said during an impromptu press conference afterward.
He succeeds Maj. Walter E. Piatt, who’s heading to Washington, D.C. to become the Director of Army Staff.
Gen. Mennes, 53, is coming from Washington and a job with the Pentagon, where he served as Director of Force Management for the Headquarters Department of the Army G-3/5/7.
While it’s his first assignment with the 10th Mountain Division, Gen. Mennes said serving at Fort Drum has been “in the back of his mind,” noting his upstate connections.
He isn’t a stranger to north country-like winters as he grew up in Amherst, where he played hockey, went skiing and is a big fan of the Buffalo Sabres and Bills.
He remembered huge snowdrifts covering the family’s car during the “Storm of ‘77,” so he’s convinced he can handle north country winters.
“I love winter,” he said.
Coming into the job, he knew he had big shoes to fill in succeeding Gen. Piatt, who may be most well-known locally for his efforts to better connect Fort Drum to the north country community.
That special bond between Fort Drum and the community is something that is known “almost Army-wide,” he said, so it’s something that he needs to focus on soon.
He also plans to get know his leaders and troops, adding he needs to learn about Fort Drum right away so he can “start to help.”
A 1988 graduate of West Point, Gen. Mennes served in numerous command and staff positions, including multiple deployments to the Sinai Desert, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq. He also was assigned with the Ranger Regimen, Joint Special Operations Command, the 82nd Airborne Division and the Department of Army Staff.
His wife, Kellie, and three children, Ashley, Haley and Jake, are moving to the north country. He mentioned that his son loves to fish and looks forward to checking out the best fishing locations in the area.