FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The Fort Jackson community is in for a real treat. The Basic Combat Training museum has re-opened and is something to behold. The official ribbon cutting was held last Friday, and I was proud to be able to show off our new museum to some of our community leaders.

What really impresses me is that the museum comes alive with its various exhibits and visuals.
When the museum first opened its doors 37 years ago, it began as a mere collection of 20 artifacts and just a general focus on Fort Jackson.

Today, the museum boasts a number of high-speed exhibits that zoom in directly on how civilians are turned into Soldiers, interwoven with Fort Jackson’s past. It allows the visitor not only to see the various aspects and phases of Basic Combat Training, but lets the visitor live them, so to speak, with realistic, high-tech displays that make the visitor feel as if he or she has enlisted in the Army and is standing there in ACUs.

Now, that’s my kind of entertainment, because it’s something that enhances the way that our Soldiers can connect with their families. And, it’s a lot of fun.

When Soldiers and families connect in a manner such as this, only positive things can happen. One thing for certain is that families will have an enriched view of what BCT is all about. BCT is a very important time for Soldiers. It’s a defining point in their young adult lives in most cases.
It’s the beginning of their Army careers, a starting point in their Army days that they will likely remember for as long as they stay in uniform and, in many cases, a whole lot longer.

Some of our Soldiers’ fondest memories of the Army are molded during the time they spend here. Their personal experiences and friendships from Fort Jackson will always be part of them.
In that sense, that’s how older Soldiers are always able to relate to basic training. Older Soldiers know how basic was then and see how it is now, which gives them a deeper understanding of the direction today’s Army is taking.

New Soldiers will really get a kick out of sharing BCT experiences with their family members on Family Day. And their families will get the feeling that they are actually taking part in several facets of BCT themselves.

Holograms of drill sergeants are carefully placed to make the museum experience very realistic. I don’t want to say too much and spoil any surprises. There is no doubt in my mind that the museum will be a popular attraction each week.

The museum features hands-on exhibits for visitors, such as gas masks and other gear, as it depicts the three phases of BCT. As you know, BCT is a 10-week cycle that is broken down into three phases " Red, White and Blue.

Current BCT culminates with a four-day field training exercise " Victory Forge " in which a team of Soldiers must accomplish a given mission.

But BCT wasn’t always like this, and that’s what an older Soldier might recognize when touring the museum.

As far as training is concerned, the museum traces the development of training since World War I due to the changing nature and demands of combat.

As I said, the BCT Museum has a history itself that is worth noting. In 1974, when it first opened its doors, it was more or less like a historical warehouse. It continued to operate that way " collecting and displaying all types of weapons " until 1985, when it narrowed its focus to the history of Fort Jackson.

In the months to come, I expect that our museum will be a must-see, as it should be. The bottom line: Basic Combat Training is what we always have been all about. The museum puts that all into historical perspective.

Army Strong and Victory Starts Here!