Before Fort Jackson’s commander Brig. Gen. Milford H. “Beags” Beagle Jr passes on the reins of Fort Jackson in a change of command ceremony June 18, he sat down and discussed his tenure here with the Fort Jackson Leader staff.
Q. How would you characterize your time here as commanding general?
A. If I had to summarize it in one word, or a couple of words, it would be gratifying. Gratifying in the sense of, you know, you get to come and command an organization in your own state and being an installation commander and the CG of the Army Training Center. You are in charge of, I think, the best mission in the Army – training Soldiers for the Army.
Q. Who or what would you credit for making your tenure here successful?
A. “I would have to give credit to the whole team. That sounds like a lot of people but it has been the entire team. If you look back what we’ve done collectively, in my three years here, that wasn’t only a person on the staff, I mean, that was everybody really coming together as a team. The hardest thing on an installation like this, because we are not a numbered division, is that sense of team cohesion. This is all for Fort Jackson.
“I don’t care who you work for, or what reporting chain you’ve got, we are all in the same house – one team. I’ve used that mantra consistently. So the things that we’ve won, the accolades we’ve received when people come to see Fort Jackson … they see all of this for Fort Jackson. And I think we have all coalesced very nicely around just who we are as an installation.”
Q. What has been your fondest memory as Commanding General?
A. “I think the thing I still enjoy every day is being able to come out of my house, whether it be late in the evening or early in the morning, and you hear the voices of Soldiers. You’re not going to get that everywhere. You can go to any other place, you can probably hear firing ranges or a weapon system firing, but just to hear voices in the distance; that refreshes you. It reminds you what your purpose is, just by listening.”
Q. As you go into a tactical unit, what type of mental changes do you have to prepare for?
A. “Just a mindset, a mind change related to the mission because here we’re regenerating (the force) and now I will be going back to operating. It’s really a luxury to see or receive and be on the receiving end of what you produced for the past three years, and now you’ve got to fully complete the transformation in the Soldiers. But being on the other end of what we started, the operating force completes. So now I’ve sat on both sides of it – generating and then being on the receiving end. Now you have to complete that process of transforming civilians completely into Soldiers. And that’s the biggest mindset adjustment that I’ll have to make. “
Q. How would you say your time as Fort Jackson’s commander compares to the other assignments you’ve had in your career?
A. “It’s hard to compare it. But again, it is very, very gratifying in the sense of what I’ve been able to do, what I get to do every day; the outreach with the community; and the internal outreach across the entire installation. That’s something that up until this point in my career you don’t experience unless you are the senior commander or commanding general. What you get to touch and the impact is so great because of the size of the organization. That’s been the biggest difference in this job compared to others.”
Q. How will you remember how the installation handled the COVID-19 pandemic?
A. “We handled it better than anybody. With no doubt, I can say that with a straight face because had the largest population in our training pipeline, and we did not have to stop what we’re doing.
“We brought more things online – programs, services, schools (you name it). We brought all those things back online and never had to take a step back. We just kind of kept going forward. The one thing I said out in the community is that Fort Jackson doesn’t have reverse in our transmission – it’s just drive. It’s been slow and it’s been very deliberate, but we’ve not had to stop and take these big steps backwards. Everything is deliberately falling into place. We’ve just been very methodical and deliberate in doing that, and it’s been phenomenal to watch how we operated throughout COVID.”
Q. How would your legacy to be after you leave? You’re looking back, in let’s say 10 years.
A. “Somebody asked me that question when I first got here, and literally, I keep it on a piece of paper. They said, ‘Sir, you gotta think about what you want your legacy to be,’ and I looked at that for whole year before I decided what it was. Then finally it hit me one day. I said, I would want my legacy to be simply that I care.
“I care not about training, not about emails. I cared about this installation, the people on the installation, what we do, how we do it. My legacy as long as people know it, or how they get a sense of it, was I really cared about this place.”
Q. Is there anything you would like to say to the Fort Jackson community as you’re leaving?
A. To the community at large, thank you to everybody that I won’t get to personally thank face-to-face just for the support and following my vision and the lead that I set. Every commanding general will move the ball, but in three years I think we moved the ball a long way because we had additional innings, additional time to do it. Everybody kept rolling in the same direction. I am very appreciative of that in the fact we continue to change our culture. Just don’t forget what we do in terms of our mission here and what Fort Jackson means to our Army. Sometimes I think that gets lost over time.
But you think about the visitors who come here and how many times they’ve come - that’s for a reason. Once everybody saw it, they’re like, ‘Holy Cow, this is one of the best gems in our Army.’ And people just didn’t know. So I wouldn’t want anybody here to forget that fact.”
Q. Is there anything you would like to add?
A. We’ve had some bad spots here lately, but if I count back, we have way more bright spots than we can shake a stick at over time. I am just very thankful for the connection and relationship that we’ve gotten with the community.”