By Leader Staff ReportsJune 14, 2018
Since taking command of Fort Jackson and the Army Training Center in 2016, Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson has presided over many changes and improvements to the installation.
Johnson recently shared some of his fondest memories, moments, and accomplishments of his time here. Johnson will be passing command of Fort Jackson to Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle in a ceremony June 22 at Victory Field on post.
What are your fondest memories of Fort Jackson?
"Experiencing all the weekly Basic Combat Training graduations where we all get to see the transformation from volunteer civilian to Soldier on full display and linked with their Families and friends.
"It's pretty special stuff, energizing, uplifting, motivating and really brings home the special relationship our Army has with the American people. Last week one of the proud Moms pulled me aside and told me, 'General, I brought you my Son and you gave me back a man.' Talk about inspiration."
What are you most proud of accomplishing during your time commanding Fort Jackson and the Army Training Center?
"I'm very proud and humbled by the extraordinary team of teams that delivers excellence each and every day across a wide variety of mission sets. With the U.S. Army Training Center mission our team has re-shaped Basic Combat Training for the entire initial entry enterprise in a way that will deliver a more combat ready Soldier to units across the Army. As a result of the incredible leadership at every echelon here at Fort Jackson, not just in the USATC, but across all our supporting agencies and commands, and the commitment of our drill sergeants to exceed standards, our graduating Soldiers are already more disciplined, tougher, physically and mentally, and more proficient at basic Soldier tasks.
"We doubled down on the grit and resiliency of our Soldiers through combatives, rifle fighting techniques, and tough, realistic field training. We added a culminating field training exercise called 'The Forge,' which is challenging our trainees both physically and mentally, and demanding they trust and leverage their training, equipment and teammates. They are already exhibiting a higher esprit de corps as a result of this tough and grueling shared experience."
Is there anything you wished you had more time to have been able to complete?
"All of us can always improve our foxhole. I'm very proud of the work done to better recognize our phenomenal Army Civilians as not just valued members of the team but decisive to our mission accomplishment. Delivering an Army Civilian appreciation day, improving our communications and bringing their voice forward not only through the chain of command but through a new Civilian advisory council is a good start, but this is a cultural issue and shift that requires us to remain steadfast and walk the walk each day."
How does your time as commanding general of Fort Jackson and the Army Training Center compare to your other assignments?
"This has been one of the most personally and professionally rewarding experiences of my entire career. On the personal side my Family was welcomed and thrived within the most military friendly community on the planet. We witnessed the incredible milestone of our daughter graduating high school and being accepted to the University of Virginia.
"Professionally, I'm a much better officer for having served here because I now have a much better understanding and appreciation for how we 'Forge the Army' and the impact of the efforts of every mission located here. My high respect for all, especially the drill sergeants and their Families, will remain at the forefront of any emotion tied to this extraordinary mission."
Who do you credit for making your time at Fort Jackson and the Army Training Center a success?
"The inspiring Soldiers, Army Civilians, Retirees and Families who either temporarily or permanently call Fort Jackson home.
"Its team ball for everything and Sheila and I are so humbled and privileged to have served with them all. We're ready to attack the next hill, and we look forward to seeing you on the high ground."