Accessions takes helm from Armor at Knox
May 28, 2010
By Maureen Rose
FORT KNOX, Ky. (Army News Service, May 28, 2010) -- Fort Knox witnessed the last chapter of the Armor Center here, during a transfer of authority ceremony May 27.
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. James Milano, the Fort Knox commander and 44th Chief of Armor, relinquished command of the installation to Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commander, U.S. Army Accessions Command.
The Armor and Infantry centers will be abolished as separate entities and incorporated into the new Maneuver Center of Excellence. That new organization will be located at Fort Benning, Ga.
The U.S. Army Accessions Command, Cadet Command, and Human Resources Command, which are now in Virginia, will join the U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox in order to consolidate the Army's personnel managers under one roof and form the Human Resource Center of Excellence.
Maj. Gen. John Sterling, the ceremony host and deputy commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, said the Base Realignment and Closure act changes are far-reaching, but none were more complex than the Fort Knox experience.
"The face of the Army presence to the surrounding community changes, but all to the good," Sterling assured the audience. "It will be a huge boon to the Army. Enormous synergy is created by the centers of excellence. Merging all the human resource elements at Fort Knox is a great idea. It puts us in a better position to manage our human capital and should yield huge benefits."
Milano, who guided the Armor Center for the past nine months, told the audience that it had been a "fast ride" with no two days alike.
"It seemed like it was only nine days ago (instead of nine months) that I lowered myself into the (tank commander's) seat," he said. "The Armor branch is not lessened or wounded by any of these changes; we're only returning to our roots."
The roots of cavalry, which are intertwined with armor's, were evidenced during the ceremony with the participation of Old Bill -- a horse who often parades with ceremonial armor events. Appropriately, the reins were held by Aubrey Henley, the last Knox director of the Office of the Chief of Armor; the OCOA will transfer to Fort Benning along with other armor assets next year, when most of the physical movement of personnel and equipment will occur.
Dressed in period Cavalry uniform with a rifle resting across the saddle, Henley galloped Bill across Brooks Field to stand in formation between the units. At the conclusion of Milano's remarks, he left the formation with a wave of his hat and trotted Bill briskly away.
Milano encouraged the armor leadership to continue taking pride in themselves.
"There are no finer Soldier leaders; you are setting the example of what right looks like," he told the troops. "When you get to Fort Benning, wear your Stetsons, spurs, and fancy boots -- when appropriate. Old Bill will still ride and he will surely link up with us at Fort Benning."
He ended with assurance to the armor Soldiers.
"I have absolute confidence that you will be in excellent hands with General Freakley," he said.
The Armor Center's colors were cased permanently and Milano led the armor units off Brooks Field.
Freakley opened his remarks with thanks to the many veterans in the audience.
"We stand on your shoulders," he said. "Thank you for your service."
He then recognized four "iron colonels," whose due diligence ensured that the BRAC planning and enactment went smoothly -- Fort Knox Garrison Commander Col. Rick Schwartz; Col. Scott Cottrell, the BRAC coordinator for Accessions Command; Col. Greg Gardiner, the BRAC coordinator for HRC; and Col. Jeffrey Ogden, Fort Knox's deputy commander for transformation.
"Today the Armor Center passes a torch, a legacy of service," Freakley said. "We are challenged to make the HRCOE the best it can be. We accept it with humility. Teamwork will be the centerpiece. Today is not about the Accessions Command, but about a team of teams that is represented on the field. All of us are proud to serve on the Fort Knox team."
He also told the audience, replete with community leaders, that the Army strong message was inherent to the training accomplished at Fort Knox. Becoming a Soldier fundamentally changes a young person, Freakley said, and Army training leads to strength of character as the Army values are internalized.
"There will be changes, but the constants of caring for Soldiers and their Families will not change," he said.
He also assured the armor units that he would support them as they continued to train Soldiers at Knox until the physical move begins in 2011.
Freakley also explained Fort Knox's new motto, "Strength Starts Here," would characterize the transition to Fort Knox as the home of the Army's generating force.
"Thanks for helping us get off to a strong start," he told the attendees. "The planning is over; we are here."
Milano was presented with the aftcap that symbolized the last armor round fired at Fort Knox, while Freakley was given the first HRCOE round fired at Fort Knox.
(Maureen Rose writes for the Turret at Fort Knox)