MILITARY MATTERS: Fort Benning Commanding General Retiring From the Army Soon
FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - In less than two months, Fort Benning will have a new commanding general, and we now know who that will be and what the current man in charge will do next.
“There’s probably no better job in the Army than being the Commanding General of Fort Benning. Fort Benning is the heart and soul of the Army,” MG Patrick Donahoe said.
2-star General Patrick Donahoe has led Fort Benning since July 2020 and plans to retire from the Army after 33 1/2 years in the service. According to the military installation, he’ll hand over the reins at a ceremony on July 14th to Major General Curtis Buzzard - current Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army Forces Command in Fort Bragg, N.C. and previously served as the Commandant of Cadets at West Point. He’ll be the new Fort Benning Commanding General, a job that changes hands every 2 years.
As for Major General Donahoe, he was the previous chief of staff on Fort Benning and calls this current job a dream come true, but it also came with the challenges of coronavirus.
“When I look back at my tenure as Commanding General, 1st off, there will be this asterick...in the day of COVID,” MG Donahoe told us.
There was only a 2 week pause in training during the pandemic. Major General Donahoe tells us it’s been a team effort to protect the force and make major changes on Fort Benning due to COVID, saying they “developed testing regimes and a vaccination capabilty that gave us the ability to continue to train all of the new soldiers coming into the Army, to man the force. To do that in the middle of the pandemic…is pretty impressive.”
He’s also been open about the controversial renaming of Fort Benning that opened more than 100 years ago, named for a Confederate General. Donahoe recently updated Columbus city council.
“The commission will make a recommendation on October 1, 2022. And during fiscal year 2023, the decision to rename will be solidified.”
The combination of the Armor School and Infantry School at the now Maneuver Center of Excellence has been part of one of his proudest achievements on Fort Benning.
“The biggest thing we got done has been the reestablishment of the leader training brigade,” MG Donahoe said. “That brigade now is a hot house of leadership development and innovation for how we train and educate our leaders.”
Continuing efforts by his predecessors, Major General Donahoe led the way into a new world, with pacing challengers like the Russians and Chinese.
“To really help the Army refocus from wide areas of security, counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan...to this large scale combat operations piece,” MG Donahoe said.
From honoring local Medal of Honor recipients, to family field days, this commanding general hoped to only strengthen the bond between Fort Benning and the community.
Donahoe added, “We have this really rich relationship between the people of Columbus, Phenix City, Fort Mitchell, pick the town or city and it’s Army.”
And he’s leaving the Army this July, at the same place he started as a young soldier in 1989.
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