Located in the center of the state of South Carolina, Fort Jackson is the largest and most active Initial Entry center in the United States Army, providing training to about 25% of the men and women who enter the service each year. Unlike some other posts that are being closed or scaled back in accordance with defense cutbacks, Fort Jackson is experiencing an upsurge in growth.
In addition to providing Initial Entry Training, Fort Jackson has now become a significant site of professional development for soldiers. With the closure of Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, Ft. Jackson gained a number of professional development schools for the Soldier Support Institute (SSI), located at Hampton Parkway and Lee Road. The Institute includes the U.S. Army Adjutant General School, Finance School, Recruiting and Retention School, the Institute's NonCommissioned Officers Academy , and the Training Support Battalion. The SSI completed its move to Fort Jackson as part of the Army's restructuring mission. It is now an integral part of the Fort Jackson military community. Also,the Army Chaplain School now is at Fort Jackson and the DOD Polygraph Institute now calls Fort Jackson home.
Fort Jackson, a community made up of soldiers, civilian employees, retirees and family members, was incorporated into the City of Columbia in October 1968. The installation instructs an average of 55,000 to 65,000 soldiers each year including Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training and all professional schools. In addition, the post offers support to military retirees and their families. In the year 2001, the post increased the number of Basic Trainees trained, up from approximately 36,000 to around 41,000.
The fort encompasses more than 52,300 acres of land, of which approximately 46,000 acres are wildlife area. Fort Jackson had nearly 15,000 military personnel and 4,000 civilian employees as of Sept. 30, 2001. Fort Jackson spends more than $600 million a year on salaries, goods and services, much of that in Columbia. Pay and allowances during fiscal year 2001 totaled $441.4 million, including $98.4 million to civilians. The Greater Columbia chamber estimates Fort Jackson's economic impact on South Carolina at more than $1.2 billion, mostly in the Midlands.
Established on June 2, 1917, a new Army training Center was established to answer America's call for trained fighting men in the early, ominous days of World War I. This installation would become the largest and most active of its kind in the world. First known as the Sixth National Cantonment, and later as Camp Jackson, Fort Jackson has always served as the Army's pioneer in the training environment.
The initial site of the cantonment area consisted of almost 1,200 acres. The citizens of Columbia donated the land to the federal government, thereby initiating the long tradition of respect, cooperation and friendship between the city and the installation. It was purchased by the citizens of Columbia to show support for President Woodrow Wilson, who had lived here in Columbia during his boyhood days.
Named in honor of Major General Andrew Jackson, a native son of the Palmetto State and the seventh president of the United States, Camp Jackson was designated as one of 16 national cantonments constructed to support the war effort. The pressure of World War I brought swift changes. Within 11 days of the signing of a contract to construct the camp, the 110-man camp guard arrived. By the end of the first month, the labor force had grown to more than 1,200 and the first two barracks were completed. Two months later, the force had grown to almost 10,000 men.
Virtually overnight, Camp Jackson had grown from a sandy-soil, pine and scrub oak forest to a thriving Army training center, complete with a trolley line and hundreds of buildings. Three months after construction began; some 8,000 draftees arrived for training. The first military unit to be organized here was the 81st "Wildcat" Division, under the camp's first official commander, Major General Charles H. Barth. Members of the original guard, who had been the first to occupy the camp, were moved to Camp Sevier in Greenville, S.C., and incorporated into the 30th "Old Hickory" Division, named in honor of Jackson. More than 45,000 troops from these famed divisions went to France as part of the America Expeditionary Forces.
In less than eight months, construction of the vast camp was complete. But almost as suddenly as it began, the clamor subsided. With the signing of the Armistice in 1918, the famed 30th Division was inactivated. The 5th Infantry Division trained here until it was inactivated in 1921. Control of the camp reverted to the Cantonment Lands Commission, and from 1925 to 1939, the sleepy silence was broken only by the occasional reports of weapons fired by state National Guardsmen.
In 1939, the demands of war brought the area again under federal control, and Fort Jackson was organized as infantry training center. Four firing ranges were constructed, and more than 100 miles of roads were hard surfaced and named for legendary Revolutionary War figures and heroes of the Civil War. During World War II, the "Old Hickory" Division was one of the first units to reappear on the scene, just as it had in 1917. More than 500,000 men received some phase of their training here. Other famed units to train at Fort Jackson during this period were the 4th, 6th, 8th, 26th, 77th, 87th, 100th and 106th. The 31st "Dixie" Division trained here during the Korean Conflict.
Fort Jackson had grown over the years, but most of the buildings were temporary. Finally in 1964, construction began on permanent steel and concrete buildings to replace wooden barracks that had housed the Fort's troops since the early 1940's. In recognition of the Fort's 50th anniversary in 1967, the citizens of Columbia gave Fort Jackson the statue of Andrew Jackson that stands at Gate #1. With the establishment of the modern volunteer Army in 1970 and the need to promote the attractiveness of service life, construction peaked in an effort to modernize facilities and improve services.
In June 1973, Fort Jackson was designated as an U.S. Army Training Center, where young men and women are taught to think, look and act as soldiers - always.
Through the years, changes have been made to enhance training. Victory Tower, an apparatus designed to complement basic combat training, is used to reinforce the skills and confidence of the individual soldier. Field training exercises (FTX) were incorporated into advanced individual training (AIT) so soldiers would have an opportunity to practice MOS and common skills in a field environment. By 1988, initial entry training (IET) strategy was implemented. The standard unit of training was the platoon. Training focused on hands-on skill development rather than platoon instruction. Fort Jackson continues to win awards as we move toward our vision of the future. The goal is to make Fort Jackson the living, working and training environment it can be. "Victory Starts Here", as it has since 1917.
The fort has a significant economic impact on the City of Columbia and Richland County. In turn, the community of Fort Jackson greatly contributes to the greater Columbia area in its charitable efforts. The post hosts the South Carolina Special Olympics each year, providing for over 1000 people for two nights.
Fort Jackson has 1,266 family housing units on post. There are three swimming pools. Andy's Fitness Center in the newly constructed Community Activity Center (CAC) has a complete line of the most modern equipment for physical fitness. The fort has three additional gymnasiums, two championship golf courses, lighted football and track fields, five lighted multicourts for tennis, volleyball and badminton, a state-of-the-art softball complex - - - and much more.
Named the Army's Community of Excellence in 1988, Fort Jackson has continued to earn awards for excellence year after year. Recently opened in at Fort Jackson were the new Single Soldier Barracks; ; and a brand new, large, modern PX (just inside Gate 2).
Leesburg Training Center
The South Carolina National Guard's 218th Regiment is a training regiment located near the east end of Leesburg Road on Fort Jackson (Leesburg Training Center). The regiment's mission is to serve as a training center for Army National Guard and Army Reservists stationed in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The regiment operates the Leesburg Training Center (LTC) and the Clarks Hill Training Center (CHTS). LTC includes over 15,000 acres under license to the South Carolina National Guard for weekend and annual unit training. A new academic and dormitory complex costing $12.7 million is nearing completion at LTC. Another major construction project at LTC is underway - a $3.2 million state of the art Battle Simulation Center.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Realign Fort Benning, GA, and Fort Leonard Wood, MO, by relocating the Drill Sergeant School at each location to Fort Jackson, SC.
DoD also recommended to realign Birmingham Armed Forces Reserve Center Alabama by disestablishing the 81st Regional Readiness Command, and establishing the Army Reserve Southeast Regional Readiness Command in a new Armed Forces Reserve Center on Fort Jackson. This recommendation would support the Army Reserve's Command and Control restructuring initiative to reduce Regional Readiness Commands from ten to four. DoD claimed that this recommendation would transform Army Reserve command and control by relocating one major headquarters from inadequate facilities in Birmingham, Alabama to Fort Jackson. An Air Conformity determination and New Source Review and permitting effort would be required at Fort Jackson. To preserve historic and archeological resources at Fort Jackson, additional training restrictions might be imposed and increased construction delays and costs would be possible. Tribal consultations might be required at Fort Jackson. Construction and added operations at Fort Jackson might impact threatened and endangered species and could result in further training restrictions.
In another recommendation, DoD would realign Ft Jackson and two other installations by relocating all mobilization processing functions to Ft Bragg, NC, designating it as Joint Pre-Deployment/Mobilization Site Bragg/Pope.This recommendation was part of a larger recommendation to consolidate mobilization funcitons at several other sites. This recommendation would realign eight lower threshold mobilization sites to four existing large capacity sites and transforms them into Joint Pre-Deployment/ Mobilization Platforms. This action would be expected to have the long-term effect of creating pre- deployment/mobilization centers of excellence, leverage economies of scale, reduce costs, and improve service to mobilized service members. These joint platforms would not effect any of the services units that a have specific unit personnel/equipment requirements necessitating their mobilization from a specified installation. The realigned, lower thresholds mobilization sites had significantly less capacity and many less mobilizations. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 2 jobs (1 direct job and 1 indirect job) over the 2006-2011 period in the Columbia, SC metropolitan statistical area (less than 0.1 percent).
DoD also recommended to realign Birmingham Armed Forces Reserve Center, AL, by disestablishing the 81st Regional Readiness Command and establishing the Army Reserve Southeast Regional Readiness Command in a new Armed Forces Reserve Center on Fort Jackson, SC.
In another recommendation DoD would realign Maxwell Air Force Base, AL; along with Naval Air Station Meridian, MS and Naval Station Newport, RI; by relocating religious training and education to Fort Jackson, SC, establishing a Joint Center of Excellence for religious training and education.
Secretary of Defense Justification: This recommendation consolidates Drill Sergeant's Training from three locations (Fort Benning, Fort Jackson, and Fort Leonard Wood) to one location (Fort Jackson), which fosters consistency, standardization and training proficiency. It enhances military value, supports the Army's Force Structure Plan, and maintains sufficient surge capability to address unforeseen requirements. This recommendation supports Army Transformation by collocating institutional training, MTOE units, RDTE organizations and other TDA units in large numbers on single installations to support force stabilization and engage training. It improves training capabilities while eliminating excess capacity at institutional training installations and provides the same or better level of service at a reduced cost.
The realignment of of Birmingham Armed Forces Reserve Center recommendation supports the Army Reserve's Command and Control restructuring initiative to reduce Regional Readiness Commands from ten to four. This recommendation transforms Army Reserve command and control by relocating one major headquarters from inadequate facilities in Birmingham, AL, to Fort Jackson, SC. This supports the initiative to consolidate command structure and responsibilities on Active Army installations, which will in turn increase the support capabilities of the Army Reserve to the Active Army while establishing a new operational capability for the Army Reserve.
Consolidation of a Joint Center of Excellence for religious training and education at Fort Jackson, SC, creates a synergistic benefit by having each Service's officer and enlisted programs conducted in close proximity to operational forces. Realized savings result from consolidation and alignment of similar officer and enlisted educational activities and the merging of common support functions. This recommendation supports the following DoD transformational options: (1) establish center of excellence for joint education and training by combining like schools and (2) establish joint officer and enlisted specialized skills training.
Community Concerns: There were no formal expressions from the community regarding the Drill Sergeant School.
Commission Findings: The Commission found DoD's proposal to consolidate drill sergeant training at one site to be consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. Fort Jackson has adequate facilities for consolidation of all three existing drill sergeant schools when augmented with proposed construction. Savings occur rapidly, reflecting the efficiencies of collocation. The Commission views the consolidation as desirable so long as the ability to foster consistency and proficiency in this critical Army asset is not affected during implementation.
For the recommendation to establish a Joint Center for Religious Education and Training at Fort Jackson the Commission found no reason to disagree with the Secretary's recommendation and justification. The Commission believes a Joint Center for Religious Education and Training at Fort Jackson will provide significant jointness benefits to the Chaplain Corps, and better prepare chaplains to comfortably minister to members of all service branches. The Commission also believes that during DoD implementation, course curricula can be developed to achieve both goals of consolidating training where appropriate, and providing service-unique training where necessary.
Commission Findings: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and force structure plan. Therefore, the Commission approved the recommendation of the Secretary.
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