|US Army Infantry Center & School and Fort Benning|
|Part of Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)
Forces Command (FORSCOM)
|Georgia (United States)|
The Flags of the Infantry Center and the Infantry School
|In use||1918 - Present|
|Controlled by||US Army|
|Garrison||Units and tenant units
Fort Benning is a United States Army post located southeast of the city of Columbus in Muscogee and Chattahoochee counties in Georgia and Russell County, Alabama. It is part of the Columbus, Georgia, Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Fort Benning is a self-sustaining military community, which supports more than 120,000 active-duty military, family members, reserve component soldiers, retirees, and civilian employees on a daily basis. It is a power projection platform, and possesses the capability to deploy combat-ready forces by air, rail, and highway. Fort Benning is the home of the United States Army Infantry Center and School, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 14th Combat Support Hospital and many other additional tenant units.
Fort Benning is named for Brigadier General Henry L. Benning, a Confederate army general and a native of Columbus. It was established in October 1918 as Camp Benning, and was assigned permanent status in 1918. The base covers 182,000 acres (737 km²). During World War II, Fort Benning included 197,159 acres (797.87 km²) and had billeting space for 3,970 officers and 94,873 enlisted persons. The Chattahoochee River runs through Fort Benning, which straddles the Georgia/Alabama state line; 93 percent of Fort Benning is located in Georgia and 7 percent in Alabama.
Fort Benning's first mission was to provide basic training for units participating in World War I. With the end of that war, Benning was closed until the Army could find another use. The first tenant unit was the Infantry School, which General George Marshall commanded beginning in 1934.:41 The Infantry School is still located at Fort Benning, the wooden permanent buildings completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
During World War II Fort Benning became home to the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, known as the Triple Nickel. Their training began in December 1943 and was an important milestone for black Americans, as was explored in the first narrative history of the installation, Home of the Infantry. The battalion, later expanded to become the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, was trained at Fort Benning but did not deploy overseas. During this period, the specialized duties of the Triple Nickel were primarily in a firefighting role, with over one thousand parachute jumps as smoke jumpers. The 555th was secretly deployed to the Pacific Northwest of the United States in response to the concern that forest fires were being set by the Japanese military using long-range incendiary balloons.
The Airborne School on Main Post has three 249-foot (76 m) drop towers called "Free Towers." They are used to train paratroopers. The towers were modeled after the parachute towers at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. Only three towers stand today; the fourth tower was toppled by a tornado on March 14, 1954.
The 4th Infantry Division, first of four divisions committed by the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, reorganized and completed its basic training at Fort Benning (Sand Hill and Harmony Church areas) from October 1950 to May 1951, when it deployed to Germany for five years.
Fort Benning was the site of the Scout dog school of the United States during the Vietnam War, where the dogs trained to detect ambushes in enemy terrain got their initial training, before being transferred to Vietnam for further advanced courses.
In 1984, following the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty, the School of the Americas relocated from Fort Gulick (Panama) to Fort Benning. After criticism concerning human rights violations committed by a number of graduates in Latin America, the school was renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
The post is home to the United States Army Infantry School as well as the Army's airborne (parachuting) school. Fort Benning is the primary training installation for all U.S. Army infantry enlistees (11X). Enlisted infantry soldiers undergo their Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training in a combined fourteen-week course called One Station Unit Training.
The 198th Infantry Brigade has the mission of transforming civilians into disciplined infantrymen (11B) and indirect-fire infantrymen (11C). The 192nd Infantry Brigade conducts Army Basic Combat Training for non-combat arms enlisted soldiers, who go on to their occupational schools following graduation from basic training.
One of the tenant units on Fort Benning is the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), the successor to the Army's School of the Americas.
The School of the Americas moved to Fort Benning in 1984 and trained more than 61,000 Latin American soldiers and policemen. A number of them have been accused, or sentenced for human rights violations, such as Manuel Noriega (U.S.-supported dictator in Panama between 1983 to 1989), Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos (responsible for the University of Central America massacre in 1989), Hugo Banzer Suárez, Leopoldo Galtieri, Efraín Ríos Montt, Vladimiro Montesinos, Guillermo Rodríguez, Omar Torrijos, Roberto Viola, Roberto D'Aubuisson (responsible for the killing of Salvadorean Archbishop Óscar Romero), Victor Escobar, Juan Velasco Alvarado, some of Augusto Pinochet's officers,, two-third of the militaries responsible for El Mozote massacre and Héctor Jaime Fandiño Rincón (commander of one of the brigades responsible for the San José de Apartadó massacre). In 1999, the United States House of Representatives voted to cut off funding for the school, and in 2001, it changed its name: "So widely documented is the participation of the School's graduates in torture, murder, and political repression throughout Latin America that in 2001 the School officially changed its name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation."
Renamed in 2001, WHINSEC is a Department of Defense institute that instructs rising civilian, military and law enforcement leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere. Its goals explicitly include strengthening democracy, instilling a respect for the rule of law and honoring human rights by educating an array of military and civilian students to solve regional problems, including peacefully resolving border conflicts, fighting terrorism, the illegal drug trade and organized crime, responding to natural disasters and supporting peacekeeping efforts.
However, U.S. Army Maj. Joe Blair, a former director of instruction at the school, said «there are no substantive changes besides the name. [...] They teach the identical courses that I taught, and changed the course names and use the same manuals.»
There are four main cantonment areas on Fort Benning: the Main Post, Kelley Hill, Sand Hill, and Harmony Church.
Main Post houses various garrison and smaller FORSCOM units of Fort Benning such as 36th Engineer Group, 988th Military Police Company, the 43rd Engineer Battalion, and the 29th Infantry Regiment, as well as a number of TRADOC-related tenants, e.g. the Officer Candidate School, the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy, and the Airborne School. Adjacent to Infantry Hall (the post headquarters building), is a monument, the Ranger Memorial.
Kelley Hill houses the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized).
Sand Hill is the primary location of the Infantry Training Brigade (198th Infantry Brigade) and the Basic Combat Training Brigade (192nd Infantry brigade). Sand Hill is also the location of the 30th AG Reception Battalion at Fort Benning.
Harmony Church area houses the 2/29 Infantry Regiment Sniper School, the 1/29th Infantry Regiment (training support for Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Strykers), and the Ft. Benning phase of Ranger School. Victory Pond, where the amphibious training for the Bradleys take place, is in Harmony Church. Also in this area, about 1 mile (2 km) from Red Diamond Road, is a Civil War era cemetery in a large meadow. The graveyard is marked in the C C 2 area on the Fort Benning tactical military map as CEMETERY 2.
Fort Benning was selected by the Base Realignment and Closing Commission to be the home of the new Maneuver Center of Excellence. This realignment will co-locate the United States Army Armor Center and School, currently located at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with the Infantry Center and School. This transformation is expected to be completed September 2011.
Many movies and a number of documentary films have been filmed at Fort Benning. Among the notable ones: