MILITARY MATTERS: Exclusive 1-on-1 With New Fort Benning Commanding General
FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - Changes are happening on Fort Benning. In a News leader 9, we sat down with the new Commanding General of the Maneuver Center of Excellence to discuss the post’s upcoming name change, training for war and much more.
Major General Curtis Buzzard said, “It’s awesome being back here.” He has had several assignments on Fort Benning, the last one being the Captain’s career course 25 years ago. Now, he’s back as leader of the Army post.
“I’ve got some really fond memories (on Fort Benning) being a LT, Ranger school, Airborne school actually as a cadet,” MG Buzzard said.
His 30 years in the Army started as an infantry officer, deploying multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s had numerous assignments including Battalion and Brigade Command during combat in the 82nd Airborne Division.
The site of his latest job - which has been Fort Benning for 100+ years - is set to be renamed next year, recommended by the Naming Commission to be Fort Moore. General Buzzard cannot talk about implementation of that change, but told us this:
“I don’t think you could’ve chosen two better people to name this post after than LTG Hal Moore and his wife Julie....the impact he had as an Army and a leader of character and his wife, I think the impact she’s had on casualty notification...I think about all the Gold Star mothers.”
Meantime, with America’s eyes on places like Russia and China, Major General Buzzard wants to be ahead and quote “lead the target” if needed, knowing Fort Benning is integral in getting new soldiers, officers, and company commanders ready.
“We’re a miscalculation away from something unfortunate happening overseas, so gotta be extraordinarily trained to deter, and if they have to, they can fight,” MG Buzzard added.
When COVID-19 hit, he was commandant of cadets at the U-S Military Academy at West Point, where he himself graduated in 1992, along with getting a Master’s degree from Harvard. We asked General Buzzard about the coronavirus on Fort Benning now. He says the risk is mostly mitigated.
“Right now, we are in a different place, largely back to what I’d consider pre-Covid, thanks to our vaccination protocols,” MG Buzzard said.
Thinking about the pictures of all the previous Fort Benning Commanding Generals and their wives, pictures that are up in his house, MG Buzzard said, “It also reminds me that we stand on the shoulders of giants that came before us.”
He’s worked alongside giants as a military aide for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The last 3 months, he’s called the shots on Fort Benning, assessing what’s needed in target areas.
“People...training fundamentals of leadership development...modernization...and community are the 4 major lines of effort. I’m sitting down with leaders of each of those to talk about where we’re going, and we hope to publish a campaign plan on our way ahead,” MG Buzzard told us. “We’ve got the saying, it’s better at Benning, so we want to continue that and make it better. Obviously, at some point, that name will change.”
And that will likely happen under his watch as Commanding General, typically a 2 year assignment.
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