Maj. Gen. Michael X. Garrett became the 36th commander of U.S. Army Alaska in a change of command ceremony May 17 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

He comes to Alaska from Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was chief of staff, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg.

Garrett replaces Maj. Gen. Raymond P. Palumbo, who has been the senior Army commander in Alaska and deputy commander of Alaskan Command since July 12, 2010.

Palumbo, recently nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general, will move on to an assignment as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence) for Joint Coalition and Warfighter Support at the Pentagon.

Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, commanding general of U. S. Army Pacific and reviewing officer for the ceremony, described Garrett as "the right man for the job."

"I can think of no one better prepared to continue USARAK's reputation for producing tough, well-conditioned professionals," he said.

Wiercinski praised the legacy Palumbo created during his tenure in Alaska.

"Over the last two years, USARAK positively demonstrated why it is the best-kept secret in America's Army," he said, "and why Alaska is so critical to our nation's refocus on Asia and the Pacific."

Garrett's assignment to Alaska is something of a homecoming for the new USARAK commander, his wife Lorelei and their two children.

He was the first commander of the newly formed 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division at JBER from February 2006 to July 2008. He led the brigade through its first combat deployment to Iraq from October 2006 to December 2007.

"The Garrett family is fired up to be back in Alaska," Garrett said. "We have fond memories of our experiences and the many friendship we made during our last tour."

In his remarks, Garrett acknowledged the Army's current challenges and sounded an optimistic note on the future.

"As we sort our way through the challenges associated with the current and projected fiscal environment, I am confident in our leadership, the vision of our chief and commander United States Army Pacific and our way ahead," Garrett said.

He has served in 18 assignments, four overseas and 14 stateside, in his 28-year Army career.

Overseas, the general has served in Afghanistan, twice in Iraq and Korea.

In the United States, he has served at Fort Stewart, Ga., Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., twice at Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Fort Lewis, Wash., Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, three tours at Fort Bragg, N.C., West Point, N.Y., Fort Richardson, Alaska, Washington, D.C., and Fort Knox, Ky.

Garrett is a 1984 graduate of Xavier University, in Cincinnati, where he received a bachelor of science in criminal justice and was commissioned in the U. S. Army as a second lieutenant of infantry. He also is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and has served as a Senior Military Fellow at the Center for New Security in Washington, D.C.