By GUIDON staffJanuary 8, 2020
This past year, Fort Leonard Wood celebrated 20 years of the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, acted on housing concerns, upgraded the Chemical Defense Training Facility and prepared for the new Army Combat Fitness Test. Soldiers and civilians here also took home Army-level awards and Bldg. 2101, the World War II-era Black Officers Club, was memorialized and renamed in honor of the late artist Staff Sgt. Samuel Countee.
Below is a chronological list of some of the biggest stories that impacted Fort Leonard Wood in 2019:
Housing town hall
As part of an ongoing Army-wide effort to resolve unsatisfactory conditions in Army family housing, Fort Leonard Wood's leadership held a town hall to provide information and gain feedback Feb. 27 at Pershing Community Center.
Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle Jr., then U.S. Army Engineer School commandant; Col. Eric Towns, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander; and Shawna Swanson, Balfour Beatty regional director, addressed issues from Soldiers and their families regarding various housing issues.
The meeting saw a heavy turnout, with about 244 service members, families and leaders in attendance.
The Army Combat Fitness Test isn't scheduled to become the fitness test of record until October 2020, but Fort Leonard Wood's 1st Engineer Brigade began preparations for the change by ensuring their unit leaders received ACFT certification training.
On March 28 and 29, certified instructors within the brigade held the second iteration of the level I and II courses. Staff Sgt. Travis Linden, Company D, 554th Engineer Battalion senior drill sergeant and ACFT Level III certified instructor, said he hopes to hold the certification training twice a month.
"My goal is to get every drill sergeant and every instructor, at a minimum, to level I so Fort Leonard Wood is prepared and ready for this," he said.
The U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School held a ribbon cutting ceremony April 8, marking the official end to a six-month redesign of Fort Leonard Wood's Chemical Defense Training Facility.
The redesign has taken the facility from a live agent training facility in a sterile environment with concrete walls and no connection to realism, to areas using real-life scenarios with custom audio and lighting effects.
Latest battlefield technologies
The U.S. Army Futures Command and MSCoE held a demonstration day May 9 at Training Area 190, showing off new technologies being employed on the battlefield.
The event, named Maneuver Support, Sustainment and Protection Integration Experiments, or MSSPIX for short, provided capability developers and the science and technology community a credible operational experiment venue to support materiel and concept development.
A new way to fight domestic abuse
In June, the Fort Leonard Wood Legal Assistance Office embarked on a program to broaden its resources and commitment to assisting victims of domestic abuse.
The new initiative is a referral and representation system meant to make the office a first resource for victims to help prevent and mitigate the complex issues in domestic violence cases, decrease the barriers to reporting and allow victims to take advantage of the things only a lawyer can do.
"We were seeing a number of clients seeking help with physical, emotional or financial abuse from a partner," said Chief of Legal Assistance Gary Chura.
763rd wins EOD competition
After a rigorous week of competition, one team rose to the top of the U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team of the Year competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, July 22 through 26.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Hamilton and Sgt. Tyler Kinney, from Fort Leonard Wood's 763rd Ordnance Company, won the weeklong competition.
"We honestly didn't change anything different from how we normally train, and that's how it should be," Kinney said. "If you're training, it should be realistic. Realistic training gives you the ability to apply it to any type of environment, whether it's a training scenario or on the battlefield."
After more than a year of renovations, Fort Leonard Wood's Building 2101, better known as the Black Officers Club, was memorialized and renamed Aug. 13 in honor of the late artist Staff Sgt. Samuel Countee, who painted the building's recently-restored mural 74 years ago.
Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, cut the ribbon alongside other officials and special guests, including Countee's niece and namesake, Sammie Witing-Ellis.
"Today, (Countee) is the giant on whose shoulders we stand, and I could not be more honored than to be a part of the dedication of this hall in his name, and in honor of all the service and sacrifice of his contemporary service members on whose shoulders we stand," Martin said before officially declaring the building Staff Sgt. Samuel A. Countee Hall.
MSCoE celebrates 20 years
The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence celebrated 20 years of existence Oct. 4 with a retreat ceremony at MSCoE Plaza, followed by a traditional Army Twilight Tattoo by the 399th Army Band.
Speaking at the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, commented on Fort Leonard Wood's World War II-era beginnings and the dedication required of the workforce who spent five months constructing the first facilities here.
"It rained more in those five months than it had in many years," she said. "And so, Fort Leonard Wood was built in a pit of muddy water."
The Maneuver Support Center -- which came to be known as MANSCEN -- activated Oct. 1, 1999. It has since provided a unique way of organizing and staffing the installation to conduct training, doctrine development and force integration as the Military Police and Chemical schools joined the Engineer School here when Fort McClellan, Alabama, closed as part of the Base Realignment and Closure program.
FLW FMX wins two Army-level awards
The U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command's Fleet Maintenance Expansion team here was presented with two awards Nov. 13 -- the Chief of Staff, Army Award for Maintenance Excellence in the Active Army All Others category for fiscal year 2018 and the Chief of Ordnance Best of the Best Maintenance Award for calendar year 2018.
The awards were presented by Maj. Gen. Daniel Mitchell, TACOM commander.
"This organization is always seeking ways to perform our field-level maintenance mission better, whether that be through innovation or through creating efficiencies," said Jeriel Music, TACOM FMX director. "For a maintenance organization, nothing is more rewarding or prestigious than being recognized for those accomplishments, not only by the Army Chief of Staff for winning an AAME, but ultimately being recognized by the Army Chief of Ordnance for having the Best of the Best maintenance organization in the entire Army."