WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. – Col. Earl Schonberg handed the arsenal colors, and with it command of Watervliet Arsenal, to Col. Alain Fisher during a change of command ceremony held here July 22.
The ceremony marks the 62nd transfer of authority, making Fisher the 63rd commander in the U.S. Army cannon manufacturer’s 209 year history.
U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command commanding general, Maj. Gen. Darren L. Werner oversaw the change of command. Werner praised the arsenal’s performance under Schonberg’s command.
“Two years ago, Col. Schonberg took command of Watervliet Arsenal and he’s done an exceptional job managing this highly specialized workforce comprised of more than 760 Army civilians and contractors,” Werner said.
During Schonberg’s command, the arsenal invested more than $200 million in new equipment and facility upgrades with an additional $1.5 billion in proposed modernization projects in the near future.
Werner called out Schonberg’s focus on the Army’s top-priority, its people, while improving mission performance and capability, “The Army’s top priority is our people, and under Col. Schonberg’s command, that was evident.”
Under Schonberg’s command, the arsenal held several people-first events designed to care for the arsenal’s people and build an inclusive, diverse environment where everyone is valued and respected including a Project Inclusion Summit with community leaders and a Veteran’s Benefits Seminar to connect veterans with the benefits and services they’ve earned.
During his outgoing remarks, Schonberg reflected on the performance and dedication to duty of the Watervliet workforce, “This team continues to meet the challenges this arsenal faces head on and I know I am a better leader for my time here as your commander. All of you have placed the mission and success of the Arsenal first and, for that, I thank you.”
Werner also praised incoming commander Fisher, “Col. Alain Fisher is one of the best, and his track record shows it. Fisher’s depth of experience gained while serving in numerous staff leadership positions, as well as his previous command experience, make him an ideal leader to guide Watervliet Arsenal into the future.”
Fisher said he is humbled and honored to be leading an arsenal that has supported the defense of America for more than 209 years since the War of 1812 and remarked on what he hopes to accomplish with the arsenal’s talented workforce.
“I have already had the pleasure to meet a few of you and I am eager to engage with the rest of Team Watervliet,” Fisher said. “Together we will deliver the cannon and mortar systems to America’s Warfighter - who will employ them on the battlefield providing the freedom of action, extended operational reach, and prolonged endurance needed to prevail over any adversary in the defense of freedom.”
Schonberg will transition to his new role as the Assistant Chief of Staff for the G-4 U.S. Army Northern Command at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX.
Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest continuously active arsenal in the United States, having begun operations during the War of 1812. Today's arsenal is relied upon by the U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannons, howitzers and mortar systems.