LTC Phillip Johnson, left, accepts the WTC colors from COL Steven Bapp on May 25.

FORT BENNING, Ga. - The Warrior Training Center hailed a new leader Tuesday.

LTC Phillip Johnson took over the position during a change of command ceremony at Camp Butler's rappel tower. He replaces LTC Robert Harris, who leaves for Arlington, Va., to become the Army National Guard's deputy operations officer.

Johnson arrives at Fort Benning after serving as executive assistant to the director of the National Guard Bureau's joint staff.

"He has demonstrated the ability to think strategically and has a vision on where he wants to take this battalion," said COL Steven Bapp, special assistant to the Army National Guard director. "I assure you all that the Warrior Training Center is in capable hands, and he will take this battalion to the next level."

Johnson joined the military in February 1984 and entered the Oregon Army National Guard four years later. In 1992, he was commissioned as an Infantry second lieutenant through the Army ROTC program at Portland State University.

He deployed to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division in February 2004 and then returned to the Oregon Army National Guard's joint force headquarters, where he served as the assistant deputy chief of staff for training.

"I look forward to working with the entire command team here ... and training Soldiers for the war fight - because that's what's really important, and we all know that," Johnson said.

The Warrior Training Center, which traces its history to 1994, conducts the Pre-Ranger, Combatives, Air Assault, Pathfinder, Pre-Master Gunner and Bradley Crew Evaluator courses - all aimed at building personnel to carry out the Army National Guard's state and federal missions.

Two years ago, Harris became the first lieutenant colonel to command the Warrior Training Center, the only facility of its kind in the Army. Under his leadership, the unit helped develop 280 Army Rangers, 31 Bradley Master Gunners, and awarded more than 2,500 Air Assault and 150 Pathfinder badges. It also directly supported 28 Army National Guard brigade combat teams and dispatched more than 30 mobile training teams across the military.

Bapp said the numbers are impressive but Harris' most important contributions are the intangibles, which can't be scientifically measured. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen have benefited from WTC instruction in combat operations, homeland security and natural-disaster relief.

"These are the true fruits of Rob's labor," Bapp said.

Harris was commissioned as an Infantry officer in 1989 after completing Army ROTC at Texas A&M University. He has deployed to Iraq and supported Stabilization Force 10 in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This marked his second assignment at Fort Benning.

He praised the unit's Soldiers and instructors, post and Army Guard leaders, and other agencies for "making this (WTC) battalion come to life."

"Fort Benning is the team of teams, and I'm proud and thankful to have been part of that team," Harris said. "(We) train and produce capable warriors."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16