Leadership of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is set to change hands in early March as current chief Gen. David Perkins and his deputy both retire after more than 30 years in uniform each.

Perkins will be relieved by Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who confirmed for promotion in December to four-star general. Perkins is set to retire in a March 9 in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., after 38 years in uniform.

Gen. David Perkins Commander Army Training and Doctrine Command Photo: TRADOC
Gen. David Perkins
Commander Army Training and Doctrine Command

In a separate ceremony, Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, deputy commanding general for TRADOC, will retire March 1 after 37 years of service. He will relinquish the TRADOC deputy position to Lt. Gen. Theodore D. Martin.

TRADOC is a four-star command, and one of three Army commands that report directly to the Army chief of staff. It is responsible for the institutional side of the Army, including recruiting and training soldiers and developing operational concepts for how the Army will fight current and future conflicts. TRADOC also produces the operational requirements for new weapons and platforms.

He was commissioned in the armor branch upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1980. He has held leadership positions in armor and mechanized infantry units in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East.

He also held a number of key staff assignments, including deputy chief of staff for strategic effects for multi-national forces-Iraq; deputy chief of staff for operations for United States Army Europe; and special assistant to the Speaker of the House, United States House of Representatives.

Perkins led the 2nd brigade, 3rd Infantry Division during the 2003 “Thunder Run” into Baghdad, aimed at creating confusion among Iraqi forces. After heavy fighting, the brigade occupied central Baghdad, creating the first permanent presence of U.S. troops in the city. During this fight, Perkins earned the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor.

Perkins took command of TRADOC in March 2014. There he was instrumental in devising and continuously selling the concept of “multi-domain battle” where in future wars the Army will operate from the land but have effects on the sea, in the air and in space.

Townsend most recently commanded the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and from August 2016 to September 2017, he commanded Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR ) in Iraq and Syria. During his command tenure, the U.S.-led coalition assisted the Iraqis in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in their strongholds of Mosul and Tal Afar.

MacFarland assumed duties as deputy commanding general/chief of staff for TRADOC in April 2017.

He was commissioned in 1981 upon graduation from West Point and has served in armor and cavalry units throughout his career. He commanded the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, from 2005 to 2007 and deployed at its head to Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006 to secure the city. In what became known as the “Sunni Awakening,” MacFarland’s strategy saw U.S. forces working closely with local Sunni tribal leaders in the fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq to secure the capital of the al-Anbar Province. 

MacFarland commanded the 3rd Armored Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, from August 2014 to January 2017, before coming to TRADOC. He also immediately preceded Townsend as the commanding general for CJTF-OIR.

He will relinquish those duties to Lt. Gen. Theodore D. Martin, who was confirmed for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general on Jan. 30 and will be promoted before assuming his new role. Before his arrival at TRADOC, he served as special assistant to the director of the office of business transformation, Washington, D.C.