FORT BENNING, Ga. (June 13, 2012) -- The man who steered the Maneuver Center of Excellence project across the finish line -- and made sure all the post's other Base Realignment and Closure objectives fell into place last September -- is saying goodbye.

Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, now the former MCoE and Fort Benning commanding general, said the leaders who came before him made the transition and task of moving the Armor School here from Fort Knox, Ky., much easier. Now that full operating capacity has been achieved, the Maneuver Center will have a profound impact on the operational force for years to come, he said.

"We're grateful for the hard work of so many previous commanders and leaders, because the planning … was fantastic," he said Thursday. "It was amazing. The plan was so good, it was almost on auto pilot. … It was special. We didn't want to just have Armor here collocated. We wanted them to intertwine and work together. And that's what's happened.

"The plan got them here. Then, we had to look at how we take the best of Armor and best of Infantry to create this Maneuver Center where ideas are shared and change is made that will save Soldiers' lives and set us up for success in the future. I'm really proud to have been a part of that, and that's not because of me. It's because of the tremendous team here."

Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who becomes Fort Benning's 53rd commanding general and third to lead the MCoE, recently served in Afghanistan, where he was commander of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-Shafafiyat, part of the International Security Assistance Force. Brown has been confirmed by the Senate for promotion to lieutenant general and is headed to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., where he'll take over as I Corps commander.

"I'm proud to join America's Corps," Brown said. "It's a tremendous place. I just hope I can continue to contribute, be a part of the team, and help affect and shape Soldiers and Families so they can do the missions they do so well … that are critical to our nation."

The general, who came to Fort Benning in November 2010, said Army training was strengthened by the consolidation of Infantry and Armor at one location. He cited the "Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force" and Brigade Combat Team 2020 as two initiatives that will blaze the Army's future path.

"That will shape the maneuver force and the Army for years to come," he said. "We're going to become a more decisive force, ready for the complex, uncertain operating environment. It'll be a force that's flexible, agile and adaptive and can dominate where we need to across the globe."

Brown said the special moments in his time here were many. He pointed to last September's dedication of McGinnis-Wickam Hall, when Fort Benning paid tribute to two Medal of Honor recipients -- Spc. Ross McGinnis and Cpl. Jerry Wickam, who earned the nation's highest military honor in Iraq and Vietnam, respectively.

"That one really stands out," he said. "Meeting their Families … I will never forget that."

Leaving behind the tight bond between Fort Benning and surrounding communities will be tough, Brown said.

"The people are just amazing," he said. "They fought to get the base here in the early 1900s, and that attitude has never changed. It's terrific -- it's an amazing community with truly great people. I'll really miss that."