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NEWS | Aug. 15, 2022

'Railsplitter' command hosts change of command

By Capt. Christina Winters 84th Training Command

Maj. Gen. Miguel A. Castellanos relinquished duties as the commanding general of the 84th Training Command, located at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to Brig. Gen. Edward H. Merrigan Jr. during the change of command ceremony held at Brooks Parade Field on Aug. 12.

Coined “Railsplitters”, the 84th TC traces its lineage to Capt. Abraham Lincoln and the Black Hawk Indian War of 1832 and was constituted in August 1917 shortly after the U.S. entered World War I. Also known as “the Lincoln Division”, a muster of troops from the National Guard and state reservists from the Lincoln States of Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, the division would deploy to France and serve as a troop replacement training outpost until the conclusion of World War I.

On Oct. 15, 1942, the 84th was redesignated as the 84th Infantry Division (ID). In November 1944, the 84th would land at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, and continue to participate in campaigns like the Battle of the Bulge and maneuver through Central Europe. During the Rhineland offensive, the 84th would liberate Hannover-Ahlem and Salzwedel, both satellite camps of the Neuengamme concentration camp.

Following World War II, the 84ths structure would see a series of changes until its current designation as Headquarters, 84th Training Command, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on Oct. 17 2007.

Castellanos took command of the 84th on October 31, 2020. He graduated from California State University Fresno and commissioned as an infantry officer in 1987.

Some of his most notable assignments include service as the Deputy Director for Operations at USAFRICOM in Stuttgart, Germany and the Deputy Commanding General for Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) serving in Mogadishu, Somalia, where he advised on all Department of Defense efforts related to defeating al-Shabaab and training the Somali National Army.

The 84th TC holds a special place in Castellanos’s heart.

“Being a part of the 84th TC legacy has truly been an honor,” said Castellanos. “Assuming any command comes with tremendous responsibility and serving Soldiers is paramount.”

Castellanos thanked the distinguished guests and visitors, specifically naming a few key guests for their guidance, support and mentorship throughout his command. He also recognized his family for their passion, devotion and dedication in support of his service and mission to develop highly trained, disciplined, combat-ready Soldiers and units to meet the operational needs of the Army.

“First and foremost, I will miss the people,” said Castellanos. “I will miss the culture and I am fortunate enough to serve as long as I have, it’s a big part of who I am today.”

The colors of the 84th TC are the embodiment of its history, tradition, and accomplishments. The passing of the colors between commanders symbolizes the transfer of responsibility of the unit and the welfare of its Soldiers. It ensures that the unit is never without official leadership and represents continuity of trust and allegiance between its Soldiers and their unit's commander.

Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, chief of Army Reserve and commanding general. U.S. Army Reserve Command, presided over the ceremony, accepting the colors from Castellanos as he relinquished command and handing them to Merrigan, symbolizing the transfer of authority.

“This is one of those times in which I wish I could have known Mike longer than I did,” said Daniels. “He’s just one of those people that you wish you would have met earlier in life because he’s such a great person.”

In his remarks, Merrigan said he is humbled by the trust and confidence that has been placed in him to lead the 84th TC. He thanked Daniels, Castellanos, and other distinguished guests for their continued support and mentorship, adding that he is honored to serve on the 84th TC team.

“Today marks the pinnacle of my military career," said Merrigan. "To be selected to command the Soldiers of the 84th Training Command.”

Previously, Merrigan served as the deputy commander of the 84th TC and Director of the Fort Knox Mobilization Force Generation Installation Program, assisting Castellanos in executing mission command, providing sustainment, and directing mobility exercises for deploying units with intense training environments for pre-deployment and focused competencies.

As the incoming commanding general, he says his top priorities are people, modernization and readiness.

“To the Soldiers of the 84th Training Command, I am humbled to be able to join your ranks and be part of an organization with such a proud image and reputation of excellence," said Merrigan. "I will endeavor to do my best to carry on the legacy of this organization and give you my best effort each and every day.”

Additionally, he stated his short-term vision for the unit is to provide multinational collective training in a mission command-focused setting to build and sustain trained and equipped units ready to perform in the dynamic operational environment. His goal is to be sought after by name from the operational force to build trained and ready Soldiers.