FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Col. Stephen Yackley assumed duty March 16 as deputy commander, U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson.

Before this assignment, Yackley served as the chief of staff, First Army Division East, Fort Meade, Md.

"I am excited about being back at Fort Jackson and the business of transforming civilians to Soldiers. There is no more important task in our Army," Yackley said. "We love the Columbia community, (my wife) Debby and I had a great experience during our two previous assignments and our time here meant so much to our family, it was an easy decision to return."

Yackley previously served here as the commander of 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment and later as the commander of the 193rd Infantry Brigade.

Other key assignments included assistant commander of the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan responsible for the development of the Ministry of Interior and Afghan National Police, Operation Enduring Freedom. In January 2003, he deployed a task force to Taszar, Hungary with the mission to train free Iraqi forces in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Yackley enlisted in the Army in 1973 serving two tours in Germany and tours with the 1st Ranger Battalion, Fort Stewart, Ga., and Operational Detachment 235, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne), USAR.

In 1984, he graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and was commissioned in the infantry. He served with the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan., and in Germany with the 1st Infantry Division (Forward) with whom he deployed to Operations Desert Shield / Desert Storm. In 1991, he was assigned as a small group tactics instructor, Infantry Officers Advanced Course, Fort Benning, Ga.

He also served with the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo., followed by assignment as a maneuver observer/controller in the Battle Command Training Program at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. His joint assignments include chief of the PAL Management Control Team, J36, U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany and chief, Land and Military Assistance to Civil Authorities Branch, Future Operations Division, J3, U.S. Northern Command, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Yackley is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Armor Officer Advanced Course, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College Joint Staff Officers Course, and the U.S. Army War College class of 2006. He earned a masters degree in management from Troy State University, and a masters degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.