By Lori EganMay 1, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 1, 2013) -- Change and innovation have been constants at Fort Benning since Congress first authorized the creation of then Camp Benning in the fall of 1918.
During its first 95 years, Fort Benning secured its place as the premier training center for the profession of arms, developing such military leaders as five-star generals Omar Bradley, George Marshall, and Dwight D. Eisenhower plus notable four-star generals like George Patton and Colin Powell.
Then, when the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Law, known as BRAC, required the Armor School to relocate here from Fort Knox, Ky., the wheels were once again set in motion for another chapter of innovation at Fort Benning. That chapter, or "opportunity," began in September 2011 with the historic completion of the BRAC movement of thousands of Soldiers and civilians to the newly formed Maneuver Center of Excellence, or MCoE, here, a huge culture shift.
This co-location of maneuver leaders from the Infantry and the Armor communities also created a great opportunity, said Todd Ratliff, chief of G3 Plans.
"This allowed us to see additional possibilities associated with information sharing, training effectiveness and resource efficiencies, while still maintaining branch-specific traditions, cultures and skills," Ratliff said.
So with two, high-profile Army schools here, it made sense to model training after the tenets of the University System, reorganizing to a Functional Brigade alignment, said Gary Jones, director of Public Affairs for the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
"This will streamline brigade structures to achieve maximum efficiency and reduce redundancy," he said. "Branch proponency will remain an essential part of our MCoE culture during the reorganization, which is now in progress. It most importantly facilitates the MCoE objective to develop agile adaptive leaders in functional training programs to ensure the combat effectiveness of the force," said Jones, as he described the Maneuver Leader Development Strategy, one of the commanding general's priorities.
This functional brigade structure will support the MCoE leader development strategy by using a combined arms approach to align training within Professional Military Education and functional courses, he said.
"Even more than before, it will reinforce train as you fight," said Jones.
"This realignment also reinforces our commonalities -- our common culture of professionalism and combined arms competencies," Ratliff said. "It allows for better internal and external interaction along the different functions of the MCoE."
Key to this initiative is the realignment of instructors and other cadre out of training companies and back into training departments at the school or center level.
When the reorganization is complete, with few exceptions, company, battalion and brigade structures will exist for the command and control of students and oversight of training or other schoolhouse functions will be conducted by the departments.
Fort Benning's reorganization and realignment supports TRADOC's initiative to have its schools model the university system of academia, aligning schools around warfighting functions, i.e., centers of excellence, said Dan Duval, a strategic planner for the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
The idea is to centralize like functions at the center of excellence level instead of decentralizing them in separate schools.
Initial military training and functional training will be organized under brigades and battalions within the Armor and Infantry Schools. Officer candidate, officer and NCO professional military education will fall under departments, assigned to a separate leader brigade that will report directly to the MCoE's commanding general. Additionally, staff and cadre personnel will be assigned to a Provost Battalion and will act as the registrar, Duval said. Also, this battalion will manage the U.S. Soldier and international student populations of approximately 600 Soldiers currently assigned to two companies.
Overall, this functional realignment improves coordination for maneuver training, he said, because it will provide better opportunities for combined arms integration across initial entry and professional development training.
The 199th Infantry Brigade will become a leader development brigade.
It will be leadership training -- Armor, Infantry, Cavalry -- that will allow the Maneuver Center to integrate junior and senior leaders in a combined arms training environment. This directly supports the commanding general's training guidance, Duval said.
The NCO Academy will be aligned under the 199th Infantry Brigade and the Airborne School will move from the 199th to the Ranger Training Brigade.
"This is the latest stage in the evolution of the MCoE and enables the functional brigades to exercise mission command and apply a combined arms approach to the most important things we do -- train and develop leaders for the maneuver force," Ratliff said.
There will be committee groups for common training like land navigation, weapons or first aid, that will support all the courses taught here, not just the course aligned with a particular battalion, thus creating efficiencies and maximizing effectiveness, Duval said.
"Ultimately, the purpose of the re-alignment is to improve our ability to develop the combat effectiveness of the maneuver force," Ratliff said.
Editor's note: Continue to read Bayonet and Saber for more information on the Maneuver Center's reorganization.