Kansas training facility renamed to honor Army colonel killed in Afghanistan conflict

By Mission Command Training Program Public AffairsMay 17, 2011

McHugh Center
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FT. LEAVENWORTH, KS - On May 18th, 2010, the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) lost Colonel John McHugh, Chief of Operations Group Alpha, to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. A year later, the U.S. Army is renaming one of a key Fort Leavenworth, Kan., training facility to honor the fallen Soldier.

The former Battle Seminar Facility at Fort Leavenworth is being rededicated as the Colonel John M. McHugh Training Center. The building name change coincides with a new title for BCTP, which is now the Mission Command Training Program (MCTP) to reflect the Army's training strategy changes and use of "mission command" terminology instead of "battle command." MCTP is the Army's only worldwide deployable Combat Training Center.

The Colonel John M. McHugh Training Center is a first-class instruction facility, utilizing the latest information technology to conduct conferences and seminars in support of MCTP exercises. It has also been utilized when needed for public events such as Fort Leavenworth's 2011 Martin Luther King Jr. observance. It was a building familiar to McHugh prior to his departure for Afghanistan.

The training center is part of Townsend Hall, which was named after Edwin Franklin Townsend, an officer who joined the U.S. Army in 1854. He was assigned to the western frontier where he explored newly-acquired territory. Later he served during the Civil War, gaining recognition for his courage through brevet promotions. In 1890, Townsend became the Commandant of the School of Application for Cavalry and Infantry, the predecessor of Fort Leavenworth's acclaimed Command and General Staff College.

Like Townsend, John McHugh was a graduate of the United States Military Academy. In 1986, he was commissioned into the Aviation Branch and was soon flying UH-60 Blackhawks. He flew in Operation Desert Storm with a cavalry squadron and later commanded several units and served as a trainer in others, including the National Training Center and BCTP. Prior to being assigned to BCTP a second time, he was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Following his graduation from the U.S. Army War College, McHugh became the Chief of Operations Group Alpha. As part of his duties, he went to Afghanistan in 2010 to assess training needs in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While traveling on May 18, 2010, as part of a convoy, McHugh was killed in Kabul when a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

Col. McHugh became one of the most senior-ranking U.S. officers to die in Operation Enduring Freedom and the only Battle Command Training Program member to die in combat.

Fort Leavenworth has commemorated many of the U.S. Army's heroes since its establishment... great explorers like Lewis and Clark, determined generals such as Grant, military educators such as Bell and two-time Medal of Honor recipient Thomas Custer. Now another great officer has been recognized for his role as a trainer of senior officers.

MCTP is part of the Combined Arms Center-Training (CAC-T), which delivers training programs, products and services to leaders and units in support of Army readiness. Wherever Army training occurs, the Combined Arms Center-Training helps make it happen. To learn more about the Battle Command Training Program and CAC-T, visit http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cac-t/, www.facebook.com/usacactraining or www.twitter.com/usacactraining.