The newly expanded maneuver area at Fort Benning, Ga., means Army trainers can stop hopscotching around the post to teach lieutenants how to direct platoons, reducing setup time and effort. Previously, some 850 lieutenants per year exercised on whatever land was available.
“Every time we moved training areas or training compartments on Fort Benning, we were back to square one with developing how we were going to utilize the training area,” said Cpt. Matt Quiggle, Squadron S3 of the 316th Cavalry Brigade.
Dedicating the 11,000 acres to heavy tracked and light-wheeled vehicles — essentially, tanks and Humvees, with potential for Strykers — means that the 316th can conduct training for the Armor Basic Officer Leadership Course more effectively. A $50 million Base Realignment and Closure investment helped harden the land to prevent erosion and build 60 miles of trails, about 100 low-water crossings, and staging and support areas in a space previously used for land navigation or traffic.
“It’s really the only maneuver training area where they can fully exercise their whole program of instruction,” said Col. Frederick Wolf, deputy garrison commander for transformation. The extra space means trainees can do things they couldn’t do earlier, such as develop patrol bases or company outposts.
The first group of students completed training at the Good Hope Maneuver Training Area on July 17, an exercise their trainers called a “pretty realistic experience.”
The dedicated maneuver space will belong solely to the 316th Cavalry until January, when other groups may start exercising there, according to Lt. Col. Oscar Diano, commander of the 2nd Squadron, 16th Cavalry. The Armor School will remain the primary user, conducting both mounted and dismounted operations in the training area.
“It’s got all the terrain features that these lieutenants would encounter pretty much anywhere in the world,” said Quiggle, who also noted that there are two MOUT sites in the maneuver area so students can conduct urban operations. “I think we’re finally getting to the point where we can maneuver a company versus a company in full force-on-force mode.”