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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS — Army North will focus on building relationships with partner armies in Mexico and Canada to “face the next threat,” the command’s new boss said Sept. 4.
Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins assumed command of Army North from outgoing commander Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who is retiring after 37 years of service.
Wiggins, who was serving as deputy commander of Army North, also was promoted to lieutenant general Sept. 4.
“This is one of the most rewarding jobs,” Wiggins said. “Here you’re working in your own backyard, you’re serving the citizens of the homeland. Here at Army North, in the homeland, it’s a zero-failure mission.”
Army North, based here, is the Army service component command of U.S. Northern Command. Its mission is to conduct homeland defense operations and theater security cooperation activities, and support civil and local authorities.
In recent years, the command has supported relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast in October, and conducted major disaster response exercises with local and state first responders.
The command also has slowly been building its relationship with the Mexican army. Ties between the U.S. and Mexico has long been sensitive, but the partnership between the two armies continues to grow thanks to events such as student exchanges and mobile training team visits on intelligence gathering and analysis, medical training and counter-improvised explosive device training.
This year, more than 100 events are planned, officials said.
The relationship is in its “infancy,” Wiggins said, and one of his priorities as commanding general is to continue to build the “blossoming” partnership.
Caldwell said he is confident Wiggins will lead Army North well.
“If there was ever the right person to come in here, that one person is [Lt. Gen.] Wiggins,” he said.
Caldwell, who, as of Sept. 4, was awaiting approval of his retirement, will serve as the next president of Georgia Military College.
The 1976 West Point graduate is a “soldier’s soldier,” a gentleman and a professional, said Gen. Charles Jacoby, commanding general of NORTHCOM.
Under Caldwell’s leadership, Army North is better able to respond to a threat to the homeland, whether it is a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, Jacoby said.
“Today, we are far better prepared than ever before should the unthinkable happen,” he said, noting the upcoming 12-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“I know you will take this command to new heights,” he told Wiggins, “and now you have the watch.”