New Civil Affairs Command chief at Fort Hamilton

There’s a new chief in town for the fearless military unit which deploys American soldiers to the planet’s far-flung combat zones to act as umpires between us and our enemies.

Colonel Hugh Van Roosen assumed command of the Army Reserve’s 353 Civil Affairs Command during a pomp-filled ceremony at Fort Hamilton Army Base on Saturday, attended by military brass and some rank-and-file.

Colonel Van Roosen, a former chief of staff for the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C., took over the reins from Col. George McDonnell, the ex-acting commander who will stay on as his deputy.

There was plenty of pomp, too, for Col. Van Roosen, whose promotion to brigadier general is pending in the U.S. Senate.

His induction ceremony featured a passing of the command’s flag, known as the unit colors — from ranking enlisted soldier Sgt. Maj. Robert Haglund to officiating host Maj. Gen. David Blackledge to Van Roosen who returned it to Haglund.

The new man in charge will supervise more than 2,000 soldiers, who negotiate between the U.S military and local forces, “be it a local tribe or a city or national government,” said Lt. Col. Gerald Ostlund, who will work with Van Roosen in a support role.

The incoming officer has already made an impression on his staff.

“He’s a very thoughtful and approachable man,” said Ostlund.

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