18th Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division changes commanders while on Europe deployment

·5 min read
Maj. Gen. Christopher LaNeve assumed command of the 82nd Airborne Division on  March 10, 2022.
Maj. Gen. Christopher LaNeve assumed command of the 82nd Airborne Division on March 10, 2022.

The 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps have new commanders, a U.S. Army Forces Command spokeswoman confirmed.

The 82nd's changed commander Thursday, and the 18th Airborne Corps changed its commander Friday, Col. Kathy Turner said.

Maj. Gen. Christopher LaNeve assumed command of the 82nd last week. He replaces Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue who was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general Friday and is now commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, according to the Army’s General Officer Management Office.

Troops with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corps are currently deployed to Europe to support NATO during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with nearly 4,700 paratroopers in Poland and 200 soldiers from the corps taking part in a joint task force headquarters. The Pentagon announced last week that an additional 300 soldiers from Fort Bragg will be sent to Germany to make up a modular ammunition ordnance company.

More: Fort Bragg to get new leader as Senate confirms 18th Airborne Corps commander to lead CENTCOM

LaNeve previously served as deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg from June 2021 until February this year, according to his biography.

Task&Purpose first reported the command change for the 82nd. Photos from the command change ceremony Thursday were Tweeted by the official account for the general staff of the Polish Armed Forces.

Congress confirmed Donahue to be the new Corps commander Feb. 17, after the prior commander, Lt. Gen Michael “Erik” Kurilla, was confirmed to lead U.S. Central Command based at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. As of Monday, CENTCOM's website still listed Marine Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie as its commander.

Although the Army General Officer website shows that Kurilla handed over command of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg this month, it did not show as of Monday his promotion to the rank of four-star general.

Kurilla and the 18th Airborne Corps

Kurilla was commander of the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg since October 2019.

As commander of the corps, he led more than 90,000 troops in four divisions, including the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, and numerous brigades.

Lt. Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla led the 18th Airborne Corps from October 2018 to March 2022.
Lt. Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla led the 18th Airborne Corps from October 2018 to March 2022.

According to its website, the corps is the Army’s strategic response force that “rapidly deploys ready Army forces anywhere in the world by air, land or sea, entering forcibly if necessary, to shape, deter, fight and win.”

Its headquarters provides mission command as an Army joint or combined task force headquarters.

As commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, Kurilla worked with health officials in making decisions about Fort Bragg’s health protection level during the COVID-19 pandemic. He determined what closed and reopened on post based on the number of COVID-19 cases at Fort Bragg and in the surrounding communities.

More: Is leading the 82nd Airborne the 'coolest job ever?' The new commanding general thinks it is.

He also provided input following attacks on the American embassy in Iraq as the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force rapidly deployed to the Middle East in their first no-notice combat deployment since 1989.

Donahue and 82nd

Kurilla and Donahue were involved when the 82nd's Immediate Response Force took part in the Afghanistan evacuation mission. Donahue was the last American service member to leave Afghanistan, marking the end of the nearly 20-year war there.

Donahue led more than 18,000 paratroopers assigned to the 82nd since July 2020.

The division is one of Fort Bragg’s largest units and is the command for three brigade combat teams, a sustainment brigade and a combat aviation brigade.

The 82nd Airborne Division specializes in joint forcible entry operations with a mission to deploy worldwide within 18 hours of notification.

Before coming to the 82nd, Donahue served as commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. He also served as director of operations for Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg and held numerous positions in U.S. Army Special Operations Command units.

Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, who led the 82nd Airborne Division from July 2020 to March 2022, assumed was promoted from being a major general to a lieutenant general, as he assumed command of the 18th Airborne Corps.
Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, who led the 82nd Airborne Division from July 2020 to March 2022, assumed was promoted from being a major general to a lieutenant general, as he assumed command of the 18th Airborne Corps.

According to the General Officer Management Office, Donahue has also assumed command of Operation Atlantic Resolve in Germany.

According to the U.S. Army Europe and Africa, “Atlantic Resolve is funded by the European Deterrence Initiative, which enables the U.S. to enhance deterrence, increase readiness and support NATO.”

LaNeve and 82nd

LaNeve is no stranger to Fort Bragg or the 82nd, according to his biography on the division’s website.

He’s previously commanded the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and served as the division’s deputy chief of staff for operations and plans.

More: Deputy commander of 82nd Airborne Division is promoted

After commanding at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, he served as deputy commander of operations for the 82nd from June 2017 to May 2018.

His latest assignment with FORSCOM started in June 2021 and continued through February, following an assignment as commander of the 7th Army Training Command at Grafenwoehr, Germany.

According to the General Officer Management Office, LaNeve also assumed command of Operation Atlantic Resolve in Poland this month.

Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at rriley@fayobserver.com or 910-486-3528.

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This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Commanders selected for 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps