Fort Benning is a US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) installation. Fort Benning's vision is to be "First in training, First in readiness, and First in quality of life; to provide best training to Infantrymen and other Soldiers who pass through Fort Benning's school system; to provide the same high quality training to FORSCOM and SOCOM units stationed at the Home of the Infantry; to provide training to Fort Benning installation staff, support, and training units to maintain the world's best training base and force projection platform; to provide requisite doctrine and training products, leverage the latest technology and look to the future; and to provide the Army with the best trained soldiers possible." Fort Benning's mission is to "provide the world's best Infantry Soldiers and trained units; to provide a power projection platform that can deploy soldiers and units anywhere in the world on short notice; and to provide the Army's premier installation and home for Soldiers, families, civilian employees, and military retirees." There are five types of infantry at Fort Benning. They are mechanized, light, airborne, air assault, and ranger.
Fort Benning was established is 1918 and is named for Major General Henry L. Benning. Known as the "Home of the Infantry," the installation spreads over 182,000 acres and is home to the U.S. Army Infantry Training Brigade, U.S. Infantry School, Ranger Training Brigade, Airborne School, and School of the Americas. The Fort Benning military community has several major units. 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. Functional courses comprise the second major area of training Fort Benning. These courses are designed to train military personnel in specialized, Infantry-related skills.
From 1918 until present the development of Fort Benning has been proportional to the schools progress. Through out the years, the mission of Benning and the Infantry School has remained fundamentally the same. "To produce the world's finest combat Infantrymen". Although Benning is a Training and Doctrine command installation, units of Forces Command make up 50 percent of permanent party personnel on post. They are the 3rd Brigade, 3d Infantry Division , and the 36th Engineer Group. The 3d Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and its Regimental Headquarters are also located at Benning.
Fort Benning is south of Columbus, Georgia on U.S. highway 27. It has an active duty population of 34,834. This includes both reserve components. To get to Fort Benning from the North, take Interstate 85 South, to Interstate 185 south, then take a right onto Dixie Road (leads to Main Post) or a left onto 1st Division Rd (leads to PX, dental, hospital)
Fort Benning covers 73,533 hectares (181,626 acres) of land with 93 % in west central Georgia and the remaining 7 % in east central Alabama. Major portions of land lie in 3 counties: Muscogee and Chattahoochee counties Georgia and Russell county in Alabama. There are about 124 hectares of open water, including ponds, streams, and rivers. The Chattahoochee River divides Fort Benning between Georgia and Alabama.
The natural and manmade features of Fort Benning reflect the quality and diversity of its military missions. Most of the reservation is undeveloped and is used for military training, weapons ranges, drop zones, and landing zones. Rolling, pine-covered hills are predominant, and grasslands are intermingled with forested areas. There are 63 action firing and non-firing ranges. Averages of 20,000 troops are in the field daily per year. There are currently 17,454 ha (43,128 ac) of mechanized training area out of 46,210 ha (114,184 ac) of total available training area. In addition, 14,225 ha (35,149 ac) are established impact areas and 6,866 ha (16,967 ac) are restricted dud areas. Approximately 5,759 ha (14,231 ac) of land comprise four cantonment areas.
Fort Benning is fortunate in its relationship with what is fondly called the Tri-Community. This consist of Fort Benning; Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama. Alabama's capital, Montgomery, and Georgia's capital, Atlanta are both only an hour and a half away. Fort Benning is also only a few hours' drive from Florida's Gulf shores and the mountains of North Georgia. Columbus, Georgia is a growing, thriving community with more than 275,000 people in its metropolitan statistical area. It is a city where old and new have been brought together with a sense of new city growth and old city charm and love of life. Also, neighboring Fort Benning is Phenix City, Alabama. The city is located on the western banks of the Chattahoochee River and completes the Tri-Community. History buffs will enjoy seeing many of the city's original homes from the 1800's which have been preserved in their classic form, in the 30-block Columbus Historic District. Opportunities to enjoy activities like productions at the Springer Opera House, performances by the Columbus Symphony, special events at the Columbus Museum, and many other cultural activities await those interested.
On September 18, 1918 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.
With the Infantry, as the nucleus, Fort Benning has added other very significant missions as the years progressed. Among them, Airborne School, where soldiers learn to engage in battle from the sky; Ranger School, where soldiers learn advanced tactics and skills warfare; the 29th Infantry Regiment teaches soldiers how to operate and maneuver the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in combat. Fort Benning's 36th Engineer Group has been at the forefront of the Army's post-Cold War mission of providing aid.
The National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning houses thousands of interesting and unique items and reflects the role played by Infantrymen in the defense of the nation. More than two hundred years of proud history are on display. The museum collections is continually growing. There are some 1,500 firearms ranging from a 16th century Spanish cannon, and an early Japanese matchlock musket to the Gatling Gun and the nation's smallest atomic weapon, the Davy Crockett. The museum also has memorabilia of many distinguished Infantrymen. The museum features temporary displays of contemporary art works, military badges and equipment.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Realign Fort Knox, KY, by relocating the Armor Center and School to Fort Benning, GA, to accommodate the activation of an Infantry Brigade Combat Team (BCT) at Fort Knox, KY, and the relocation of engineer, military police, and combat service support units from Europe and Korea. Realign Fort McCoy, WI, by relocating the 84th Army Reserve Regional
Training Center to Fort Knox, KY.
Additional Recommendations: In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to relocate the 81st RRC Equipment Concentration Site at Ft. Gillem to Fort Benning because of its recommendation close Fort Gillem. This recommendation would result in several environmental concerns for Ft. Benning. Groundwater and surface water resources would require restoration and/or monitoring to prevent further environmental impacts. Significant mitigation measures to limit releases to impaired waterways might be required at Fort Benning to reduce impacts to water quality and achieve USEPA Water Quality Standards.
An Air Conformity Analysis would be required at Fort Benning.
Its recommendations also included to realign Fort Knox, KY by relocating the Armor Center and School to Fort Benning. This recommendation would support the consolidation of the Armor and Infantry Centers and Schools
at Fort Benning and would create a Maneuver Center of Excellence for ground forces training and
doctrine development. It would consolidates both Infantry and Armor One Station Unit Training
(OSUT), which would allow the Army to reduce the total number of Basic Combat Training locations
from five to four. Some environmental concerns would result from this relocation. Tribal consultations might be necessary .
An Air Conformity Analysis and New Source Review would be required. Noise
analysis and monitoring would be required to determine the extent of
new noise impacts. Additional operations might impact TES at Fort Benning, leading to
additional restrictions on operations. Significant
mitigation measures to limit releases might be required to reduce impacts to water quality and
achieve US EPA water quality standards at Fort Benning.
Another recommendation made by DoD was to close the United States Army Reserve Center, Columbus, GA and relocate and consolidate those units together with Army Reserve Units currently on Fort Benning into anew United States Army Reserve Center on Fort Benning. This recommendation would support the recommendation to close Fort Gillem by providing a relocation site for the vehicles and equipment stored at the Army Reserve Equipment Concentration Site (ECS). This recommendation might impact air quality and water quality at Fort
Benning. Due to the increase in personnel and new construction, an Air Conformity Analysis
would be required. Significant mitigation measures to limit releases might be required to reduce
impacts to water quality and achieve US EPA water quality standards.
Close the United States Army Reserve Center, Columbus, GA, and relocate and consolidate those units together with Army
Reserve Units currently on Fort Benning into a new United States Army Reserve Center on Fort Benning, GA.
DoD also recommended to realign Fort Benning by relocating its Drill Sergeant School to Fort Jackson, SC. This recommendation would consolidate Drill Sergeant's Training from three locations
(Fort Benning, Fort Jackson, and Fort Leonard Wood) to one location (Fort Jackson), which DoD claimed would foster consistency, standardization and training proficiency. Assuming no economic recover, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 171 jobs (121 direct and 50 indirect jobs) over the 2006 - 2011 period in the Columbus GA-AL Metropolitan area, which would be 0.1 percent of economic area employment.
Secretary of Defense Justification: The former recommendation supports the consolidation of the Armor and Infantry Centers and Schools at Fort Benning and creates a Maneuver Center of Excellence for ground forces training and doctrine development. It consolidates both Infantry and Armor One Station Unit Training (OSUT), which allows the Army to reduce the total number of Basic Combat
Training locations from five to four.
The closure of the United States Army Reserve Center, Columbus, GA, and relocation and consolidation of those units together with Army Reserve Units currently on Fort Benning transforms Reserve Component facilities in the State of Georgia. The implementation of this
recommendation will enhance military value, improve homeland defense capability, greatly improve training and
deployment capability, create significant efficiencies and cost savings, and is consistent with the Army's force structure plans
and Army transformational objectives.
This recommendation is the result of a state-wide analysis of Reserve Component installations and facilities conducted by a
team of functional experts from Headquarters, Department of the Army, the Office of the State Adjutant General, and the
Army Reserve Regional Readiness Command.
This recommendation closes one United States Army Reserve Center in Columbus, GA, and relocates units together with
United States Army Reserve units currently on Fort Benning into a new United States Army Reserve Center on Fort
Benning, GA. This recommendation reduces military manpower and associated costs for maintaining existing facilities by
reducing the number of separate DoD installations and by relocating a US Army Reserve Center to an existing base. This
recommendation supports the recommendation to close Fort Gillem by providing a relocation site for the vehicles and
equipment stored at the Army Reserve Equipment Concentration Site (ECS).
This recommendation considered feasible locations within the demographic and geographic areas of the closing facilities and
affected units. The site selected was determined as the best location because it optimizes the Reserve Components' ability to
recruit and retain Reserve Component soldiers and to train and mobilize units affected by this recommendation.
This recommendation provides the opportunity for other Local, State, or Federal organizations to partner with the Reserve
Components to enhance homeland security and homeland defense at a reduced cost to those agencies.
Although not captured in the COBRA analysis, this recommendation avoids an estimated $52.8M in mission facility
renovation costs and procurement avoidances associated with meeting AT/FP construction standards and altering existing
facilities to meet unit training and communications requirements. Consideration of these avoided costs would reduce costs
and increase the net savings to the Department of Defense in the 6-year BRAC implementation period and in the 20-year
period used to calculate NPV.
The latter 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.
Community Concerns: The Columbus, GA, and Fort Benning community welcomed the relocation of the Armor Center and School, and
indicated full support for this portion of DoD's recommendation. However, the Fort Benning community was concerned
that an additional brigade combat team (BCT), previously planned for Fort Benning, is instead now identified in this
recommendation for stationing at Fort Knox. The Fort Benning community felt the Army ought to station additional units
at Fort Benning to more fully use its available capacity.
There were no formal expressions from the community regarding the closure of the United States Army Reserve Center, Columbus, GA, and relocation and consolidation of those units together with Army Reserve Units currently on Fort Benning into a new United States Army Reserve Center on Fort Benning, GA.
There were no formal expressions from the community regarding the consolidation of the Drill Sergeant's Training School from three locations (Fort Benning, Fort Jackson, and Fort Leonard Wood) to one location (Fort Jackson).
Commission Findings: Although the Fort Benning community was concerned that the Army BRAC proposal revised a pre-BRAC plan to activate a brigade at Fort Benning but did not identify substitute units to be based at Fort Benning, the Commission found that the
Army does not currently plan to add major units to Fort Benning as part of BRAC but may do so outside of BRAC. Both
the Fort Benning and Fort Knox communities requested clarification from the Army about which specific units would
relocate under BRAC from Fort Knox to Fort Benning, and the Commission obtained the needed Army clarification. Last,
the Fort Knox community expressed concern that the Armor Center and School functions might not be readily accommodated at Fort Benning, but the Commission found the Army would implement the transfer only as the moves are fully supportable and that Armor student training will not be degraded by BRAC moves. The Commission found that Army BRAC plans relocate the museum portion on the Armor school manning document, and remaining museum issue resolutions can be addressed during implementation.
Regarding the last of the recommendations, the Commission found no reason to disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense. In addition, the Commission notes that the Army's process was well thought-out and inclusive of the leadership of the Reserve Components and the State.
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.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendations consistent with the final selection criteria and force structure plan. Therefore, the Commission approved the recommendations of the Secretary.