The Washington Times - January 15, 2014, 03:13PM

Ben Kotwica, who spent seven years in the Army after graduating from West Point in 1997, has been named the Washington Redskins’ special teams coordinator, a team spokesman confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

Kotwica served as the New York Jets’ special teams coordinator last season, his sixth with the team, after five years with the team in a variety of roles. He replaced Mike Westhoff, who was the team’s special teams coordinator the previous 12 seasons.

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The Redskins’ special teams were a disaster last season under first-year coordinator Keith Burns, who was among several assistants fired on Dec. 30 when coach Mike Shanahan was fired. They ranked 28th in punt return average and 32nd in kickoff return average, and their coverage unit, which allowed four touchdowns , also ranked last in punt return average.

Kotwica’s contract expired this offseason, making him essentially a free agent. In December, he interviewed at Army to be its coach, but was bypassed in favor of Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken.

He earned the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star during his time in the army, which included deployments to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2000, South Korea in 2002 and Iraq in 2004, where he served as a combat attack helicopter commander.

Kotwica’s hiring, which was first reported by Fox Sports, was the second of the day for new coach Jay Gruden and the Redskins, who earlier announced they had hired Cleveland Browns outside linebackers coach Brian Baker for the same role.