US Army Infantry Center & US Army Training Center
"I Am The Infantry, the Queen of Battle, Follow Me!"
Fort Benning is known as the "Home of the Infantry". It is here that the famed United States Army Infantry School was established and through the years gradually emerged as the most influential infantry center in the modern world. Fort Benning and the Infantry School are so intertwined that it is virtually impossible to trace the history of Fort Benning without recording the evolution of the school.
The U.S. Army Infantry School produces the world's finest Infantry combat leaders by preparing officers and enlisted soldiers to perform Infantry duties required in both peace and war with the emphasis on the art of command and leadership. The development of tactics, techniques and procedures to implement approved doctrine for Infantry units at brigade level and below is the mission of the Infantry School. It also participates in the development, review and testing of doctrine and material for Infantry units.
The U.S. Army Infantry School teaches 30 different courses which are categorized as Initial Entry Training, Professional Development and Functional. These courses provide the initial skills, professional development and specialty training for all Infantry soldiers and leaders. Professional development courses include the 20-week Infantry Officer Advanced Course, the 16-week Infantry Officer Basic Course and the 14-week Branch Immaterial Officer Candidate Course.
Upon joining the Infantry, officers spend several months at the Infantry Officer Basic Course and other follow-on courses at Fort Benning, Georgia. At a minimum, all infantry lieutenants attend: Infantry Officer Basic Course (16wks); Basic Airborne Course (3wks -- if not already airborne-qualified); and Ranger Course (9wks). Additionally, depending on follow-on assignments, officers may also attend the Infantry Mortar Leader Course (IMLC) [50% of those going to OCONUS assignments attend IMLC] or the Bradley Leader Course (BLC) [all personnel going to mechanized units attend BLC]. An infantry lieutenant can expect to hold the following jobs: Rifle Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, possibly a specialty platoon leader (Support Platoon, Scouts/Recon, Mortars, Anti-Tank) or serve on battalion staff (S1, Assistant S3). Average time as a platoon leader is about a year.
Infantry Officer Basic Course Information (IOBC) is a fast-paced, field-oriented 16 week course of instruction. Graduation from the course requires that each lieutenant be certified on infantry weapons, maintenance of vehicles and equipment, communications, NBC defense, artillery call for fire, land navigation, training management, tactics, leadership and physical fitness. Over 70% of the course involves field training. The course is conducted primarily by the 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, to which all lieutenants attending IOBC are assigned. The battalion is organized into 3 training companies, each commanded by an infantry major. You will be assigned to a platoon which is commanded by an infantry captain. He is assisted by 2 senior NCOs.
At some point following the completion of IOBC, all infantry lieutenants will attend the 9-week Ranger Course. Conducted in three phases at Fort Benning, Georgia; Camp Merril in the mountains of Northern Georgia; and Camp Rudder, located at Eglin AFB, Florida, Ranger School is an extremely rigorous and demanding course that pushes students to the extreme while developing their leadership skills and technical and tactical expertise. The course is run by the Ranger Training Brigade, headquartered at Fort Benning.
The Infantry School also teaches a Phase II of the Pre-Command Course for battalion and brigade command designees. Infantry initial entry training soldiers attend the 13-week Infantry One Station Unit Training Course which produces the finest Infantry soldier in any Army.
There are professional development courses conducted for personnel from the reserve components. These include an eight-week Officer Basic Course, a two-phase Officer Advanced Course which provides IOAC qualifications during a two week/Active for Duty Training Module and a correspondence course module, and a special two week Reserve Component Long Range Surveillance Leader Course. Additionally, the U.S. Army Infantry School conducts courses for Individual Ready Reserve enlisted soldiers.
The functional courses comprise the second major area of training at the Infantry School. These are designed to train military personnel in specialized, Infantry-related skills. The courses include the three-week Airborne Course, which instructs basic military parachuting, the two-week Jumpmaster Course, which provides training in the supervision of paratroopers during an airborne operation, the three-week Pathfinder Course, which instructs on air traffic control and selection of landing and drop zones and the six-week Infantry Mortar Leader Course, which provides instruction to officers and noncommissioned officers on how to effectively operate an Infantry Mortar Platoon.
The Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle Courses consist of the the seven-week Leader Course, which prepares officers and NCOs to effectively operate a fighting vehicle, and the 12-week Master Gunners Course, which produces thoroughly trained NCOs to assist commanders in planning and implementing Bradley Fighting Vehicle training. The Ranger Course is nine demanding weeks of training designed to hone the Infantry leader's confidence, professional skills, and leadership techniques in a rigorous, combat-like environment.
The Infantry Leader Course is a five-week course that provides the chain of command in light Infantry battalions with skills in fieldcraft, leadership, marksmanship and tactics. The Long Range Surveillance Leader course prepares leaders to operate in the deep battle and provide division and higher commanders with intelligence. The Sniper Course is a five-week course which trains Infantry snipers in precision shooting and stalking techniques.
Training of military personnel from other countries in American Service Schools is an important aspect of the Security Assistance Program of the U.S. Government. The Infantry School plays a major role in this effort, training between 750 and 800 students annually. Officers, noncommissioned officers and civilian employees from more than 109 nations attend the full range of 15 leader and special skill courses taught at Fort Benning. International military students attend regularly scheduled courses and are enrolled together with U.S. students.
From 1918 until the present, the development of Fort Benning has been directly proportional to the progress of the school. Throughout the years, the mission of Fort Benning and the Infantry School has remained fundamentally the same: "to produce the world's finest combat infantrymen."
The first successful and systematic training of the U.S. Infantry can be tracked back to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in 1778. It was on this frozen ground that Lt. General Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben introduced a set of standard drill regulations and taught them to Washington's army. Some historians have referred to him as the "Father of the U.S. Infantry." His training manual was to remain the official manual of the U.S. Army for the next 33 years.
The first attempt to establish a post for training Infantry soldiers did not occur until 1826 when Major General Edmund P. Gaines persuaded the War Department to establish an Infantry post near St. Louis, Missouri. On March 4, 1826, Order No. 13 established the Infantry School of Practice at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The school was closed two years later, on November 24, 1828.
The years that followed showed the need for an Infantry training school. There were hundreds of skirmishes with Indians and bandits as westward settlement continued. The Mexican War, 1846-1848, proved that better training in peacetime would pay off in times of war. Men like Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, along with many other U.S. military academy graduates, showed that knowledge could make a difference.
Over the next years, fighting with Indians, protecting settlements and building forts and roads were all tasks performed by the Infantrymen.
The Civil War provided a grim picture of the training status of our Infantry forces. Neither the Union forces nor the Confederate forces were able to field well-trained and disciplined troops. Bloody battles like Shiloh, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg reflected not only the lack of training and leadership, but also the fact that weapons used were far in advance of the tactics in which they were employed.
In 1867, Emory Upton Infantry Tactics was adopted by the U.S. Army and was hailed as the greatest single advance in Infantry training procedures since the regulation of von Steuben.
In 1881, William Tecumseh Sherman, Commanding General of the Army, established a School of Application for the Infantry and Cavalry at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to educate officers in the art of high command. In 1892, a separate school for the Cavalry and Field Artillery was established at Fort Riley, Kansas (the artillery school was later moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma), but no school was constituted for the Infantry.
Due to his concern over the decline of good marksmanship in the Army, Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur persuaded the Army to establish the School of Musketry at the Presidio of Monterey, California, February 21, 1907. This may be called the beginning of the present Infantry School, and the event which led to the creation of Fort Benning.
In January 1913, the School of Musketry was transferred from Monterey, California, to Fort Sill, Ok. However, the development of the school was interrupted shortly after it was transferred in order to send troops to the Mexican border to pursue Mexican bandits. Throughout the next four years, the school operated in a very limited capacity due to the severe manpower shortage throughout the Army.
With the outbreak of World War I, the need to expand our army became increasingly more apparent. The size of Fort Sill was not adequate for the training of both the Infantry and Artillery. A separate camp for training the Infantry had to be established.
On May 21, 1918, the Adjutant General's Office appointed Col. Henry E. Eames to head a board of officers to meet at Fort Sill for the purpose of selecting a site for the Infantry School of Arms. Many sites across the country were considered, but most were disqualified based on severe winter climate, unsuitable terrain, remoteness and excessive transportation costs. Initially, they decided on Fayettville, N.C., but later settled on Columbus, Georgia after Fayettville was taken as an artillery site.
On September 18, the Adjutant General directed that the Infantry School of Arms with all personnel, property and equipment move to Columbus, Georgia by October 1, 1918. The first troops from Fort Sill arrived on October 6, 1918, and occupied a temporary camp three miles east of town on Macon Road. The next day the camp was officially opened. At the request of the Columbus Rotary Club, the camp was named in honor of Confederate General Henry Lewis Benning, a Columbus native many thought was the area's most outstanding Civil War officer.
The search for a permanent location for the camp settled on a plantation site south of Columbus owned by Mr. Arthur Bussey. The Bussey land featured the kind of terrain considered ideal for training Infantrymen. The plantation would serve as the core of the camp, and the large frame house, known as Riverside, would serve as quarters for a long line of commanders.
After years of struggling for appropriations and attention from the makers of Army policy, Benning enjoyed a construction boom in the mid-1930s as a result of federal work projects during the great depression. The boom continued into the 1940s with the eruption of war in Europe. Troop strength swelled with the arrival of the First Infantry Division and the establishment of the Officer Candidate School and Airborne training.
Fort Benning secured its final vestige of permanence during the 1950s. Infantry demonstrations became a common occurrence as the newest developments were unveiled to civilian and military leaders from home and abroad.
The trend of instruction at the Infantry School became increasingly combined-arms oriented. In 1963, the 11th Air Assault Division was formed at Fort Benning to test the air assault concept that led to the airmobile concept of the First Cavalry Division.
As the post proved its significance locally, it also began to make its mark nationally in the quality of the leaders it produced. The Infantry School has either trained in its officer courses or honed in its command structure some of the nation's most prominent military figures. Leaders like five-star generals Omar Bradley, Dwight Eisenhower, and George Marshall and others like George Patton and Colin Powell, learned their craft at Fort Benning.
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