FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Aug. 6, 2020) -- A new team is in charge at the Army Field Artillery School.Col. Phil Brooks is now school commandant, chief of the Field Artillery branch and the deputy commanding general for the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill.That last title is something new. Joe Gallagher is still the civilian deputy to the commanding general, but Maj. Gen. Kenneth Kamper, CG of the FCoE/Fort Sill, decided to give Brooks a third hat to wear.“The previous commandant had two. And I’ve been working closely with Maj. Gen. Kamper, and so he wants me also to serve as the deputy commanding general here at Fort Sill,” Brooks said.That’s nothing new for Brooks. He was deputy commanding general for maneuver at Fort Riley, Kansas, in his last assignment. He arrived at Fort SillJuly 1, and has been at work in Snow Hall for a little over 3½ weeks.“I’m having a great time. It’s great to be back here with Team Lawton-Sill,” Brooks said.Like Kamper, he was only here for the Basic Officer Leader Course, or Officer Basic Course as it was known then, and the Captains Career Course.It’s been over 20 years since he was assigned to Fort Sill, and the landscape has undergone vast changes during that interval.“My family and I are excited to be back here in the Lawton-Sill community,” he said. “It’s really grown. And the partnership here with the community, I did not get to experience as much several years ago. And I can now see the close partnership at the events I’ve been able to attend here so far,” Brooks said.The commandant said that even with the pandemic restrictions in place, the atmosphere is good at the Field Artillery School.“Like Fort Riley, Fort Sill has done a great job adapting to what I would consider the new normal, but still being able to develop our future leaders for the United States Field Artillery here, even though we’ve had to make some changes – the physical distancing requirements, the mask requirements, the hand sanitation requirements still apply, but we’re still able to develop our leaders here at the United States Army Field Artillery School.”Junior officers and cadre alike wear masks while they’re in the classrooms and anywhere that sufficient social distancing cannot be maintained.The masks stay on all throughout Snow Hall for all the courses and when students are transitioning throughout the building.Hand sanitizer is in every classroom, and work stations are sanitized before and after throughout the day.There’s even a hand-washing station at the entrance to Snow Hall.Whether the masks stay on during the culminating training event for BOLC depends on the situation. In the command posts or wherever they can’t maintain physical distance, masks are required.When lieutenants and cadre are outside in all their body armor and Kevlar and where physical distancing permits, masks aren’t necessary.Brooks has not seen any impacts to course offerings or school hours since he’s been here.“The programs of instruction here remain, because the classrooms here allow the physical distancing in accordance with the (Centers for Disease Control) and Gen. Kamper’s guidelines,” he said.The junior officers will do some distance learning in the early stages, as part of the in-processing when they first arrive, but once they receive their welcome brief and they start getting their classroom instruction from the instructors here, the small group leaders, it will all be done in person.Not far from Snow Hall, Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team, is spearheading efforts to develop new and improved field artillery weapons systems and expedite the Army’s acquisition of the new technology, but Brooks said that doesn’t impact what the schoolhouse is doing currently.“I am totally responsible for the doctrine and the leader development. And so, as Gen. Rafferty’s developments come along, then we will incorporate those. But currently, no impacts to our current curriculum here until anything else is developed,” the FA commandant said.Brooks said the former FA School commandant, Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Smith, now deputy commanding general of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and his wife Lynn gave him and his wife Laurie an excellent transition, and he’s very pleased with the programs of instruction that Smith revised for BOLC and CCC during his tenure here.“So I don’t intend to make any changes to that. I’m going to look at our warrant officer curriculum … and some of our noncommissioned officer curriculum, and we’ll continue to look at those to see if there are any revisions that are required,” Brooks said. Leader development will continue here under the direction of Lt. Gen. James Rainey, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth (Kan.) commanding general, to see if any revisions need to be made to the leader programs here.The annual Fires Conference that the CG hosts at Snow Hall is still on the table, and the dates will likely be later now due to competing Army events, Brooks said. It’s currently scheduled for the last days of September and early days of October. Under COVID-19 conditions, a lot of the conference will be virtual this year.Brooks said that as commandant, “I want the future artillery lieutenants and captains to be able to synchronize fires in support of our maneuver brothers and sisters in a joint and multinational environment wherever they go. As a former Armor Brigade Combat Team commander I deployed to Europe twice, and our multinational allies and partners never underestimate the importance of the United States Army field artillery. And all of them want to be integrated with us in every operation that we ever participate in.“And then the second thing is, we’ve got to drive change. If there’s one thing that has been constant throughout my career within the military, it’s that things change. And we as leaders have to be able to drive that change,” Brooks said.FA School Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McMurdy arrived here with his family July 17, and they got the opportunity to go out and re-explore the Lawton-Fort Sill area. He will have served 24 years in the Army as of Aug. 14.“There has been a lot of change since the last time we were here. The last time we served here was between 2004 and 2006, so we’re excited to be back, we’re excited to see all the great things that have happened since we’ve been gone," McMurdy said.His military occupational specialty is 13 Bravo, or cannon crewmember on the self-propelled Paladin howitzer.“I’ve never actually had a chance to be on the M109A7. My time as a brigade combat team command sergeant major down at Fort Stewart, Ga., we had the Alpha 6’s. So it’s just one more thing I’m looking forward to do in this job, is get on the Alpha 7,” McMurdy said.What is he most looking forward to in this assignment is “absolutely, 100 percent, taking care of Redleg Soldiers and their families. The commandant has given me that as my No. 1 charge, to ensure that we’re keeping them safe, that we’re providing services that they deserve.”Primarily, he’s the senior enlisted adviser to the commandant. One of the things he’ll do is ensure the rigor of the program of instruction for the Advanced Leaders Course and the Senior Leaders Course here at Fort Sill. He will help review the curriculum on behalf of the commandant, but he has no one working directly for him.Like Brooks, McMurdy credits the previous commandant and command sergeant major with spending a lot of time working on the curriculum across the enlisted force. It will go into effect no later than October.“So initially, I’ll just oversee the rigor that was placed into that and ensure it’s where we need to be right now,” McMurdy said.The Army Combat Fitness Test is expected to be implemented Army-wide this October as well. McMurdy said he’s done the ACFT previously and he’s a big fan of it.“It definitely better measures our preparedness for the rigors of what our profession needs us to be able to do,” he said.