By Vince Little, The BayonetAugust 16, 2010
FORT BENNING, Ga. - The Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning got a new chief of staff Aug. 10 as COL Terry Sellers took over the leadership post during a change of responsibility ceremony in Pratt Hall at MCoE headquarters.
He replaces COL Charles Durr, who is set to retire in the next few months after 27 years on active duty but will remain at Fort Benning in a civilian role as deputy to the commanding general for transformation. The two-year term position is a Senior Executive Service-equivalent assignment.
Sellers becomes Fort Benning's 51st chief of staff. He'll be the commanding general's personal representative responsible for day-to-day operations and manages the command staff.
"He is the one that makes the trains run on time," said MG Michael Ferriter, the MCoE and Fort Benning commanding general. "The chief of staff is the one who represents you and ensures that you're resourced."
Like Durr, Sellers is a longtime figure on post. Since June 2009, he had been the MCoE's operations officer, executing plans, mobilization, training and leader development. Prior to that, he was commander of the 199th Infantry Brigade.
"It is indeed my honor and pleasure to serve as the chief of staff," Sellers told the audience. "I look forward to the challenge of making the Maneuver Center of Excellence a reality."
Sellers was commissioned in the Infantry after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1985 and holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Georgia. He's led troops in combat in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. From 2004 to 2005, he commanded the 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, in Afghanistan.
Ferriter praised Sellers for his part in building the Maneuver Center, saying he's carried the "heaviest rucksack that you can imagine ... to bring two huge teams together," a reference to the historic consolidation of the Infantry and Armor at Fort Benning.
"We are fortunate because we have someone who can and will fill that empty seat and continue to lead in the same way (as Durr)," he said. "He went about the business of leading us through this campaign where we stand today, on the cusp of ... beginning the physical move of Armor kit and Armor Soldiers here."
Durr, meanwhile, was commissioned as an Infantry second lieutenant in 1983 through the University of Florida's ROTC program. He participated in operations Just Cause in Panama, Golden Pheasant in Honduras, Restore Democracy in Haiti and Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad.
Durr spent about 10 of his 27 years in the Army at Fort Benning, spanning five tours. After commanding 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, and the 192nd Infantry Brigade, he deployed to Afghanistan for 15 months. He became the installation's chief of staff after returning in June 2008.
Ferriter said he's known Durr since their days together in the 82nd Airborne Division's 504th Parachute Infantry at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"I admired him from the moment I met him, and his ability to lead, help and get things done," Ferriter said. "Chuck has done all that you could imagine, so well, so professionally and so committed ... He has fought any battle that anyone wants to take on to ensure that our people are taken care of."
Durr was chief of staff under three commanding generals - Walter Wojdakowski, Michael Barbero and Ferriter.
"The most challenging piece has been the transition between commanders, because no two are the same," he said. "General Wojdakowski had a leadership style that differed from General Barbero who differed from General Ferriter ... The challenge has been trying to make sure the staff is organized and fully supports the CG and meets his expectations.
"This is a phenomenal staff. It's an incredible collection of professionals and experts, and I marvel at what they accomplish every single day."
Dating back a year under Ferriter's command, more than 800 VIPs came through here - at least two VIP parties a week, he said.
"The staff ... does a super job to help pull it all together," he said. "It's staggering - people come to Fort Benning because they want to see what right looks like. And we don't push anybody away."
Durr said he takes personal pride in the post's relationship with the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, which opened during his tenure.
As he prepares to exit the Army, Durr conceded he'd miss the "buzz (and) activity" of the chief of staff job.
"There's an energy that surrounds the command group, and it's challenging, interesting and fun to be a part of that. And again, to be surrounded by great people, it's inspiring," he said.
"It's a great organization, and it's a special time as we pull the Armor School here and finally train like we fight. We've been fighting for 60 years combined. We're finally going to train in a combined fashion here at Fort Benning ... It's just neat to be part of that."
Durr, who'll be among a handful of civilians living on post, said his former duties are in very capable hands.
"He will bring a higher level of organization to the office," he said of Sellers. "He has a breadth of knowledge and experience that will be awesome, and can do nothing but make that office more effective."