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(Enlarge) Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas J. Latter sits at his desk at garrison headquarters after taking over as garrison command sergeant major last month. Latter plans to focus on partnerships with the outside community. (Photo by Brian Krista)

When Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas J. Latter moved to Fort Meade in early September, he returned to where he had served twice before. But the installation has a new look since his tour with the 742nd Military Intelligence Battalion in 1989.

"It has changed so much," he said of the area.

More than two decades after first arriving at Fort Meade, Latter's role on post is different as well. As the new garrison command sergeant major, Latter steps in as the installation's senior enlisted advisor following the departure of former Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Smith.

Latter is focused on drawing from his past experiences as a young service member to improve the lives of the enlisted Soldiers, as well as partnering with the outside community to move the installation forward.

"As a senior enlisted leader, I'm interested in improving the quality of life for the enlisted workforce here on Fort Meade," said Latter, 44. "Things like the barracks programs and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers are things that are near to my heart -- things that affected me when I was here as a young Soldier."

Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein said he will lean on Latter's extensive experience for advice and action.

"Command Sergeant Major Latter was selected by our Army for this assignment, and I couldn't have made a better choice," he said. "Command Sergeant Major Latter's biggest attribute is in his attitude and experience. These combined will provide the candidness, can-do approach, and counsel that I look for every day while supporting our great Team Meade community."

Latter said it "feels great" to be back on Fort Meade with his wife, Terri.

"I have a lot of great memories here," he said. "I dated my wife for three years while we were here. ... There's just a lot of things in the area we like. There's so much to do here with Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, D.C."

The New York native began his 27-year military career in 1985 when the 17-year-old followed in the footsteps of his father, brother and uncles.

Joining the Army was something Latter always wanted to do as far back as when he played with plastic toy soldiers while growing up in a farmhouse in Selkirk, a few miles outside Albany.

"It's kind of a family thing," he said. "I also came out of high school at 17 and was still too young to go to college. I didn't have my mind right on how to learn and spending money, so I wanted to join the Army and go see the world."

Trained as an electronic-warfare signals intelligence analyst, Latter was first assigned to the 125th MI Battalion, 25th Infantry Division (Light) at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

From 1989 to 1992, he served with the 742nd MI on Fort Meade, interested in working with the National Security Agency. During his tour with the unit, Latter lived on the NSA side of the installation. He said his old room in the barracks is now somebody's office.

Latter then served with the 125th MI Battalion, 344th MI Battalion, 3rd MI Battalion, 1st Brigade Troops Battalion, 741st MI and the 743rd MI Battalion.

Throughout his long career, Latter has served in various key leadership and analytic positions including electronic-warfare signal-intelligence analyst; battalion training noncommissioned officer; senior voice analyst; instructor and developer of Basic Electronic Warfare SIGINT Course and Fundamental Military Cryptanalyst Course; chief Medina Regional SIGINT Operations Center (or MRSOC) Cryptanalytic Exploitation Center; superintendent MRSOC global missions division; operations sergeant major; and battalion command sergeant major.

His tours took him around the country and to Korea three times.

Latter comes to Fort Meade after serving as the command sergeant major with the 743rd MI, a subordinate of the Fort Meade-based 704th MI Group, at Buckley Air Force Base located outside of Aurora, Colo.

"His experiences in both community and joint-based environments from his most recent assignment in Aurora, Colorado brings a mature and seasoned leader that I can count on for counsel and care of our service members, their families and the community at large," Rothstein said.

After less than a month as the installation senior enlisted advisor, Latter said partnerships will play a crucial role in achieving success during his tenure.

"We have over 95 partners that are on the garrison, ranging from units as large as the NSA to detachments that are as small as 20 or 30 Airmen, that are here to support other units," he said. "Partnering all those organizations to work together and the outside community, both Anne Arundel County and Howard County -- there is a lot more innovation that has to go on."

Although the Base Realignment and Closure process is completed, said Latter, Fort Meade must continue to focus on the future.

"It's going to take a lot of effort over the coming years to keep the ball rolling and keep it moving in the right direction not only for us, but for the community in which we serve," he said.

Enhancing relations with the outside community is a major focus point for Latter to find ways to "grow together."

"Too many times you'll have an organization that goes in its own direction, and I don't think that you can do that today," he said. "I think you have to go forward together."

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