Fort Benning Commanding General Says Goodbye

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Just seven months after taking control of the infantry post, Major General Michael Barbero is leaving Fort Benning.

"I was shocked! You talk about others being shocked, but I had no idea. I can't believe it has been so short, that we only have a couple of weeks left. We are leaving here reluctantly," said Barbero.

The last seven months have been a whirlwind, the commander leading many major post projects.

Of course BRAC has been a priority, but Barbero has also been credited with bringing counterinsurgency training into the brigade and company levels, getting soldiers ready for more fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Our Army doctrine says we're in a period of persistent conflict, there is no big fight that will end this. We'll be here for a while,  and we all must understand the principles of counterinsurgency to be successful," said Barbero, who is considered an expert in the field.

Even after all these months of commanding the infantry school, Barbero still marvels at the dedication of these young American soldiers wanting to serve the greater good.

"I'll take away how impressed I am with these soldiers who raise their right hand, especially infantry soldiers, who know they will be in the close fight, and they still keep coming," said Barbero.

Overall, it's been a tour of duty that was short, but most definitely sweet.

"I never thought I would be sitting here, but I am very thankful for the opportunity, and this is the best assignment I have ever had," said Barbero.

Many have wondered why Barbero is leaving so early, but it's not unusual for commanders to be transferred in the middle of their tenure during times of war.

Brigade General Courtney Hodges commanded Fort Benning for five months during World War II.

Major General Robert Young led Fort Benning for seven months during the Korean War.

Major General George Forsyth was here just two months during Vietnam.

As for Barbero, he still doesn't know where his next assignment will be.

His replacement, Major General Michael Ferriter, will take command of the infantry post on June 24th.

He is no stranger to Fort Benning, having commanded the Ranger Battalion as well as the Infantry Training Brigade.