Division commander settles into new job
April 1, 2011
- Wendel took on the reigns of responsibility of the division in a change-of-command ceremony March 1 at McGill Training Center.
- Wendel replaced Maj. Gen. (P) J. Michael Bednarek.
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, the new commanding general of First Army Division East, praised Fort Meade for its warm welcome and prioritized the challenges he faces in his new position.
"It's been great. The transition has been smooth," Wendel said. "From the garrison to the unit, there's just been wonderful support getting settled and acclimated to Fort Meade and the job."
Wendel took on the reigns of responsibility of the multicomponent division in a change-of-command ceremony March 1 at McGill Training Center. He replaced Maj. Gen. (P) J. Michael Bednarek, who will assume command of First Army at Fort Gillen, Ga., on Wednesday. First Army is the headquarters command of First Army Division East and First Army Division West.
Wendel said the division's focus is mobilizing and training active-duty and Reserve component Soldiers to be mission ready for deployment, not only to Iraq and Afghanistan, but also to Kosovo Forces; Multinational Force and Observers, Sinai; and the Horn of Africa.
First Army Division East was established March 7, 2007 to provide training and readiness oversight and mobilization operations for an area of responsibility that spans 27 states and territories east of the Mississippi River.
In 2010, First Army Division East trained more than 21,000 Soldiers for deployment to support combatant commanders worldwide. Additionally, the division supported and processed the return and demobilization of more than 19,000 Soldiers in 2010.
Prior to taking the helm of First Army Division East, Wendel served as the deputy director, Operations, U.S. Africa Command, for almost two years.
The general graduated in 1979 from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Commissioned in the infantry in the same year, Wendel served in a variety of command and staff positions in the U.S., South America, Europe and Southwest Asia. He completed the Infantry Advance Course in 1983 and went on to command Company D, 4th Battalion, 187th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Wendel completed Command and General Staff College in 1991, and held various senior and command positions. Almost a decade later, he graduated from the Army War College and was assigned as the special assistant to the commanding general, 1st Calvary Division, Fort Hood, Texas. From November 2000 to June 2003, Wendel commanded 3rd Brigade, 1st Calvary Division. In August 2003, he was assigned to the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C., as the chief, Strategy Division, J-5 Strategic Plans and Policy.
A year later, Wendel became the assistant deputy director for Strategy and Policy, J-5 Strategic Plans and Policy. From August 2005 to July 2008, he served as the commanding general, 20th Support Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground. He then served as the director of operational maneuver, Third Army/U.S. Army Central, Kuwait, before his service with the U.S. Africa Command.
Wendel earned a master's degree in public administration from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in Strategic Studies and Theory from the U.S. Army War College.
One of the challenges Wendel faces, he said, is "maintaining relevancy and currency and making sure that the division trains and equips deploying forces with the best possible equipment, material and training solutions."
To do so requires "constant analysis and assessment," he said, "on what we are doing, how we can improve it and how we can apply that to the units we train."
Wendel said First Army Division East is proud to be a partner with the installation.
"We try to be good neighbors and great supporters of the Fort Meade community," he said, "and to be a contributing partner in all that Fort Meade brings to Maryland."