After years of hard work and persistence, the Fires Center of Excellence became reality during a flagging and patching ceremony in front of McNair Hall Friday.

During the ceremony, Soldiers from Headquarters Detachment, Fires Center of Excellence donned the new patch, and the unit's colors were unveiled by Maj. Gen. Peter Vangjel, commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Smith, command sergeant major of the Fires Center of Excellence.

Vangjel said the ceremony marked an important milestone for the Fires Center of Excellence on its way to the future.

"With the uncasing of the colors and the donning of the patch, we officially achieve our initial operating capability on schedule," he said. "Created to leverage each branch's contributions and gain greater effect in the 21st century operating environment, the Fires Center streamlines how each of the branches conduct business by combining similar and redundant functions at the center level. There is one staff, and it has subject matter experts from both branches in every directorate. The focus is to achieve efficiency and effectiveness through synergy and integration."

The FCOE commanding general is responsible for resourcing, planning and enabling the commandants in their work at the center. The commandants are responsible for their respective schools. They are responsible for branch specific training, professional development of their officers and management of their personnel.

He said the FCOE represents Army transformation at its best.

"This center is going to be a catalyst for change and drive the transformation effort," he said. "It's going to encourage and it's going to sponsor innovation, thinking out of the box, throughout the world as well as here at Fort Sill. We have got to ensure institutional agility. The world will not wait for us."

According to the Army Institute of Heraldry, the scarlet and yellow colors are the colors traditionally associated with artillery units. The arrowhead denotes the growth of the two branches in the western plains of the United States, the first "indirect fire" at Agincourt, and the symbol of the pointed tip for air defense artillery. The stars indicate excellence and the requirements in support of warfighting commanders. The cannon symbolizes the Fires Center of Excellence's mission to develop qualified fire warriors and leaders. The crossed lighting bolts signify the resolution for the future of the field artillery and air defense artillery branches in the direction of electronic warfare and directed energy aspects.