By Emily AthensNovember 29, 2010
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - (Nov. 24, 2010) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Prime Power School officially opened on Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Nov. 22, during a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence. As a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure program, the school was moved from Fort Belvoir, Va., to Fort Leonard Wood.
"Today is an extremely important and monumental occasion for prime power. It is an exciting new chapter for the United States Army Prime Power School, a new chapter in a book that started in 1958 at Fort Belvoir," said Lt. Col. Matthew Tyler, 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) commander. "A new chapter starts here with the state-of-the-art training facilities at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, a state-of-the-art training center that builds strong warriors, leaders and families and forces."
Tyler and the many other guest speakers thanked the garrison staff, the Kansas City district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, contractors, Prime Power School faculty and staff, the Directorate of Department Works and the multitude of others who made the facility possible. The 77,000 square-foot training facility will serve to instruct countless Soldiers of the 21P, prime power production specialist, Military Occupational Specialty.
"Soldiers of the 249th Engr. Bn. are our nation's generator on the battlefield and in support of our nation's response to natural and man-made disasters here at home and abroad," said Maj. Gen. Merdith "Bo" Temple, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deputy commander. "Their specialized skills do much more than just turn the lights on. Prime Power graduates bear the awesome responsibility to generate and distribute power to support our warfighters in the field. Soldiers of Black Lions represent the best and brightest of our Army and we owe each of them the very best training facilities possible. Today the Army is delivering. The building that you see before you replaces a WWII facility at Fort Belvoir with cutting edge technology that enhances the education and training of our Prime Power Soldiers here at Fort Leonard Wood."
The building offers the latest technology in classrooms, laboratories, equipment training and testing areas, administrative offices, conference rooms, an auditorium and an outdoor equipment testing area.
"What was once an outdated warehouse at Fort Belvoir, is now a state-of-the-art facility equipped with virtual training classrooms and specialized laboratories pertaining to all prime power functions," Temple said.
The Fort Leonard Wood and Maneuver Support Center of Excellence welcomes the school and looks forward to all that it will produce.
"I can't tell you how excited we are to have this great facility and this great team here at Fort Leonard Wood," said Maj. Gen. David Quantock, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general. "Prime Power ... is absolutely critical to the success of our missions. ... Right here on Fort Leonard Wood, we're going to be able to train the best of the best."
The Prime Power School course is broken down into three phases during the year-long training: academics, operator training and specialty training.
"Everyone making the transfer from Fort Belvoir to Fort Leonard Wood is extremely impressed. The potential that this represents will expand opportunities for the next generation of Soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Salnier, instructor.
The official opening of the school also marked the changing of command from Chief Warrant Officer 5 Tyman Wallace, Sr., to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Phil Mowatt.
"Thank those who had the confidence in me to select me for this position and a special thank you to all the great engineers who had a hand in building this truly remarkable facility," Mowatt said. "It is fitting that the Prime Power School was brought to Fort Leonard Wood, home of engineer training, and I am confident that together, there is much we can accomplish."
Distinguished guests, military and civilian dignitaries and other attendees enjoyed a reception and a tour of the new facility at the conclusion of the ceremonies.
(Editor's note: Emily Athens is a photojournalist and writes for the Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., newspaper, the Guidon.)