By Brig. Gen. James Bonner
Special to GUIDON
Each year, the three regiments that call Fort Leonard Wood home spend a very special time with their Soldiers, leaders, families and veterans celebrating their history and heritage. The birthdates of the regiments are: June 16, 1776, for Engineers; June 28, 1918, for Chemical; and Sept. 26, 1941, for Military Police.
Although the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence is not a regiment, a branch or a school, it is the organization that proudly executes critical missions for the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Army and the Department of Defense. On Oct. 1, we celebrate MSCoE’s 21st anniversary.
Our installation boasts a history that stretches all the way back to World War II — it will celebrate its 80th birthday in 2021 — whereas MSCoE is a relatively young organization. Still, MSCoE’s accomplishments and achievements are numerous and impactful.
Over the past 21 years, MSCoE has provided leadership, synchronization and command and control for resident schools and brigades in developing and inspiring more than 1.5 million trainees. MSCoE has also trained thousands of international students since its inception. Our leader development and education influence is seen around the world. We maintain the highest standards in military education and training as evidenced by the multiple times our drill sergeants, instructors and Soldiers have been selected as TRADOC’s very best.
MSCoE has downsized, rightsized and realigned its missions and functions for efficiency and to effectively integrate across dozens of tenant units and equities — spanning all services, all components and 24 military occupational specialties — to meet Army requirements. MSCoE has built its small staff from the ground up. As a team, we developed hundreds of doctrinal publications, implemented center-level leader development programs, consolidated university-type support functions for our schools and combined events for branch professional military education students.
MSCoE leads the most diverse noncommissioned officer academy in the Army but also provides administrative support to the academies at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. MSCoE and the U.S. Army Engineer School had the honor of being the first to integrate females into a combined arms MOS, 12B, Combat Engineers.
MSCoE has been the Army’s capability development and specialized training hub for numerous critical capabilities — Counter Improvised Explosive Device, Counter Explosive Hazards, Homeland Defense/Civil Support and Non-Lethal Weapons, to name a few. MSCoE developed and remains the proponent for two units critical for mission success: the Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Command. MSCoE provides doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and policy solutions related to the Protection Warfighting Function.
Fort Leonard Wood’s master plan yielded new star bases, dining facilities, amazing chapels, family homes, a recreation complex and numerous upgraded training facilities. Base Realignment and Closure 2005 brought the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Prime Power School to Fort Leonard Wood, and the 102nd U.S. Army Reserve Training Division and its three subordinate brigades activated or relocated to Fort Leonard Wood. In every effort, MSCoE developed and maintained outstanding relationships across our military services, with inter-governmental and academic partners and numerous community collaborations, relationships and covenants.
Truly, there is not enough space to list all of MSCoE’s accomplishments or tremendous responsibilities. But as we reflect upon this amazing organization, let us stop and focus on the one thing that enables our past, present and future mission success — our people.
Behind every noteworthy achievement are our people — service members, civilians, retirees, families and communities. Our people have shown vision and discipline in execution. Our people have prepared and supported others who have deployed into harm’s way.
Our people have sacrificed; some gave all while others are left with empty chairs around the table. Our people have shown tremendous resilience and tenacity in resource-constrained environments, natural disasters and even a global pandemic.
Our people continually answer the nation’s call to join this profession and to steward it for the next generation of leaders. Our people care about one another and are reliable and trustworthy battle buddies. Our people are ultimate professionals who demonstrate our ethic and our values by fostering climates where no teammate is left behind, where voices are heard and where each person matters and is valued for their contributions.
As we celebrate this 21st anniversary, I encourage you all to explore your own unit’s history, teach it to your subordinates and help foster the esprit de corps that binds us all together. But most importantly, tell the stories of those who came before you and highlight the excellence among our people.
Victory starts here — victory through skill.
(Editor’s note: Bonner is the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general.)