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Army's largest command cases colors for move to Fort Bragg, N.C.

June 24, 2011

By Staff Sgt. Alexandra Hays, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT McPHERSON, Ga. (June 24, 2011) -- U.S. Army Forces Command, a command responsible for more than 800,000 Soldiers nationwide, cased its colors today in advance of its permanent relocation to Fort Bragg, N.C.

Gen. James D. Thurman, FORSCOM commanding general, led the casing ceremony and was assisted in rolling the command’s colors by Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald T. Riling, the FORSCOM command sergeant major.

The casing of the colors is an Army tradition symbolizing the movement of a command to a new operational location. Traditionally, the cased colors travel with the commander and remain cased until the commander arrives at the new destination, where a similar “uncasing” occurs.

Headquartered at Fort McPherson since 1973, FORSCOM was directed to relocate under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure legislation. Other Fort McPherson units, such as U.S. Army Reserve Command and U.S. Army Central (Third Army), were also directed to relocate. Fort McPherson is to close by Sept. 15.

More than 600 members of the FORSCOM headquarters staff are already operating from temporary work locations at Fort Bragg. The remainder of the nearly 1,400-strong staff will continue relocating through the summer, in advance of the Sept. 15 deadline for the completion of all BRAC 2005 actions.

During the ceremony, Thurman said he was certain that many of FORSCOM’s Soldiers and Army civilian employees would leave Atlanta with mixed emotions, adding that the people of Atlanta have supported FORSCOM during the commands’ history here.

Fort McPherson, named for Union Maj. Gen. James Birdseye McPherson, was established in 1886 after McPherson was killed in action while commanding troops outside Atlanta, July 22, 1864.

During 125 years as an active military post, Fort McPherson has played a part in every major U.S. conflict since the Civil War. The post has also in-processed Soldiers for war, been home to one of the largest military hospitals in the region, housed prisoners of war, and played host to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his trips to Warm Springs.

In place of the military post, a new comprehensive community is planned, with a science and technology center tentatively named the “Georgia Institute for Global Health” as the central focus.

During the ceremony, Fort McPherson’s Salute Battery fired a 17-gun salute in honor of Thurman, presenting him with the traditional shell casing from the last 75mm round fired.

On FORSCOM’s current mission to train and prepare deployable forces Thurman said that he doesn’t know the future, but “I do know one thing. They are going to ask for Army forces.”
He called on those present to uphold everything that FORSCOM has worked hard to accomplish, continuing the commands’ mission in a new location.

Thurman also said he wants FORSCOM to “ensure that we never send a Soldier into combat who is not properly trained, equipped and led.”

“The march order has been given,” he said in closing. “It is now time to break camp, time to fold the tent, time to load the wagon and ride to where the Army needs us to go.”

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