By Franklin Fisher, BenningJune 6, 2019
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Col. Matthew Scalia, a career Infantry officer with broad experience in both the operational and training spheres of the U.S. Army, assumed command June 5 of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Benning, which oversees the post's day-to-day emergency and other key services, and the programs that support Soldiers and their families.
Scalia replaces Col. Clinton W. Cox, who led the garrison since May 2017. Cox, also a career Infantry officer, is retiring from military service after an Army career that began in 1996.
Scalia's most recent previous assignment was as G3 Chief of Operations for Fort Benning's Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE).
USAG Fort Benning manages day-to-day operations of the post, a sprawling, 182-000-acre installation that serves as home of the MCoE. MCoE is the hub for training and ongoing development of the U.S. Army's Infantry and Armor maneuver force.
The garrison's role is to keep the installation running properly round-the-clock, through upkeep of roads, training ranges, an airfield, barracks, office and other buildings, schools, family housing, as well as the installation's electric system, water supply, and police and fire services, among many other responsibilities
The change-of-command ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. outside the MCoE's headquarters building, McGinnis-Wickam Hall, under partly bright but mostly overcast skies before an audience of about 200.
In remarks as host of the ceremony, Vincent E. Grewatz, Director, U.S. Army Installation Management Command-Training, praised Cox for the quality of his leadership, which, said Grewatz, he had exercised during "a period of tremendous change..."
"Together with his Command Sergeant Major and the Deputy Garrison Commanders he's worked with, this command group has set conditions for continued success," Grewatz said.
Under Cox, said Grewatz, the garrison had "masterfully reduced" contracting and staffing costs, without losing important capabilities. They also supported the transition under which Fort Benning became a center for training the Army's Infantry and Armor Soldiers under what is called One Station Unit Training.
Also under Cox, said Grewatz, the garrison supported the in- and out-processing of 6,500 Soldiers and family members each year, and took actions that "demonstrated the Army's commitment to quality on-post housing."
"Integration and synchronization of installation services in support of the senior commander is complex, challenging work, but this command team and this garrison made it look easy," Grewatz said.
But, said Grewatz, "the greatest legacy that this garrison leaves behind, and that this leadership leaves behind, are the people and partnerships that were built, and are bequeathed to their successors, and on this count Col. Cox is a tremendous leader."
Grewatz was followed at the microphone by Cox, who delivered his farewell remarks.
Early in his remarks he drew laughter from the audience with a joke that highlights the incessant pressures and complexities of garrison command.
"First," he said, "I've matured quickly in the last two years." Then, holding up a photo of himself in uniform, he said, "This is the before photo, with dark hair." He then removed his black Army beret to reveal gray in his hair. "And this, is the after."
Cox praised his garrison team for working through numerous challenges that arose during his tenure, among them, two hurricanes, record rainfall, and matters involving school busing and on-post housing.
"But throughout this time, your garrison team and the Directors never faltered," said Cox. "They solved problems, then they took on and solved the next problem. And they continued throughout to take care of over 120,000 people. These are civilians, retirees, our Soldiers and their families, that call this great installation home. They continued to deliver the services at a high-quality level to the best of their ability with the resources they had."
"I'd like to take a minute to highlight some of those achievements...but none of which I take any credit for..."
The garrison's Directorate of Human Resources, and its Fire Department, earned top honors from the Army, as did one of its firefighters, Cox said. Its Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation "pulled off an epic, year-long" celebration of Fort Benning's 2018 centennial anniversary, he said. Cox went on to also highlight achievements of the garrison's Directorate of Public Works, its Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, and its Resource Management Office.
"Fort Benning is lucky to have, in my opinion, the most professional, caring, committed and innovative garrison directorates in our Army," he said.
"Thank you," said Cox, "from the bottom of my heart for all you do each and every day, and thank you for the exhaustive efforts you've undertaken to educate, coach and mentor me through this command."
In his remarks as the garrison's new commander, Scalia said the assignment is "a true privilege."
"It's a privilege," he said, "to bear the responsibility to support the training and development of the Army's maneuver Soldiers and leaders; responsibility to support the numerous units on Fort Benning, and their diverse missions; and responsibility to make this the best place to live for the families who energetically support their Soldiers and our challenging Army life.
"It is also a great privilege to provide services to the Soldiers and families," said Scalia, "to be able to give back to the installation that's provided so much to my family, the place that we gladly called home numerous times through my career...
"Thank you all again," he said. "It is absolutely my privilege to command this exceptional garrison, and I'm eager to begin."
Scalia is a 1995 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where his studies focused on history and systems engineering. He was commissioned as an Infantry officer upon graduation. His military training includes the Army's Air Assault, Airborne, Bradley Leaders and Ranger courses. He is also a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Captains Career Courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College. He holds a bachelor of science and a master's degrees in strategic studies.
He served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 as an Infantry company commander, in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010 as a cavalry squadron operations officer and a brigade executive officer. He has also served a Platoon Trainer for the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning; an Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Delaware Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program; and as the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's liaison officer to the British Land Warfare Centre in Warminster, United Kingdom. In addition, Scalia has served with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and the 1st Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany.