New 10th Mountain Division commander discusses Afghanistan, military sexual assault & transparency

Updated: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:00 PM EDT
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FORT DRUM, New York (WWNY) - Only a few days into becoming the commander of the 10th Mountain Division, Brigadier General Milford Beagle sat down to speak with 7 News anchor Jeff Cole.

“You just gave me a chill when you said it,” said General Beagle.

Calling General Beagle commander of the 10th Mountain Division hits deep for the South Carolina native, who calls his return to Fort Drum a homecoming, and knows the storied history of the division.

“To be in command of that and to understand that history and continue to connect and pull that history into the future is something that is powerful and amazing,” he said.

A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, General Beagle weighed in on the ending of the conflict and how things are heating back up, and if there’s nervousness within the ranks and their families.

“I don’t think there’s that level of high anxiety yet because the flow is something that we’re used to. The flow is not quite the same,” he said.

Transparency is something General Beagle repeated a lot. He pairs it with trust.

“The transparency is key. It goes back to trust. You always have to be open and honest about what happens, good or bad or indifferent, especially if something bad happens. If you always have been open with the community and soldiers and families, then that trust is still there. It may make a bad mark, but the trust will still be there, and granted, one event won’t erode that trust,” he said.

Changes are coming with the way the military investigates crimes, like sexual assault. The general agrees, saying it’s simple: sexual assault is a crime, and the military doesn’t want criminals in the ranks.

“Let’s do something different. If things were not working and we’re not getting better, then we have to or we are going to continue to have the same outcome. But, the base premise is back to the point - if it’s a crime, it’s deemed a crime - then you don’t want criminals. I think it’s approach we need to be on,” he said.

He adds if someone needs to come forward, they should.

“Yes, absolutely,” he said.

The general reminds the public this summer will be busy on-post with training.

“It’s going to be a little noisy. The sounds of freedom will continue, and that’s what people here understand. That’s the sound of freedom. When you are close enough to hear the bugle calls in the morning, helicopters may be an annoyance, or the sound of artillery, that’s the sound of freedom. Again, we’re going to be ready and that’s a great thing when the community understands that,” he said.

Other former 10th Mountain Division commanders now work in the Pentagon, like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. General Beagle had a chance to speak with Austin just before coming to Fort Drum.

“I got in and I got the time and that’s all we talked about is his time at the Mountain Division - what advice he had and lessons learned. And everyone doesn’t get that, and that’s not lost on me, and I keep a photo in my office of that meeting,” said General Beagle.

The general was stationed at Fort Drum in the past, serving as the post’s deputy commanding general for support. Now he’s the commander of the division.

“We’re just so glad to be back. It’s just surreal. We never could have imagined being back - granted we wanted to - but we don’t control that. It’s just like being a kid at Christmas who wants a big red bicycle, and you wake up and it’s there and, wow, you’re pretty happy,” he said.

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