Col. Leopoldo A. Quintas was welcomed to Fort Benning Thursday as the 48th chief of the U.S. Armor School during a ceremony at McGinnis-Wickam Hall.
"We are extremely excited and honored to be here as part of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Armor School," Quintas said minutes before a ceremony in Marshall Auditorium.
The event marked the first time the school has had an assigned commandant since April. Two interim commandants have filled the position left vacant by Brig. Gen. Paul J. Laughlin.
Col. John C. Hermeling, the most recent interim to lead the Armor School, will now serve as deputy commander at the school that trains soldiers for the armor and cavalry.
Quintas' arrival completes the command staff of commander Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who also has Brig. Gen. David B. Haight as commandant of the Infantry School.
Quintas is a career armor and calvary officer with 27 years of service. He has been deployed in combat to Iraq three times and twice to Afghanistan. In his most recent assignment, he served as chief of staff for the 3rd Infantry Division in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan.
The new commandant is no stranger to the Armor School. Before the school moved from Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Benning as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process, Quintas served with the 16th Cavalry Regiment from 2008-2010.
Although he has only been at Fort Benning for a couple of weeks, Quintas said his first priority will be developing adaptive and agile leaders for the armor force. "I have also got the responsibility to provide world-class training to those soldiers," he said.
Quintas is already aware that the military must do more with a shrinking defense budget. A decision has not been made on whether Fort Benning will be subjected to an Army directive from the Army Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Army to cut 25 percent from its budget and personnel costs.
"Certainly, we are in an era of diminishing resources," Quintas said. "Changes are afoot. The good news for us at the Maneuver Center of Excellence is that our training and our leader development initiatives are going to become more important than ever."
Having both schools on post allows the armor and infantry to bring together special skills that exist between them. A master gunner could be an expert on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle as well as the tank.
"Bringing those schools together to combine the best practices will be something we will be focusing on as well," Quintas said.
McMaster said if you could design a career to take command of the Armor School, it would be Quintas' career. The post commander said Quintas understands what is needed in training and doctrine.
Quintas is a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He has a master's degree in applied mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
He and his wife, Lori, have two children, Sam and Emma. Sam is a freshman at George Mason University and Emma is at Christopher Newport University, both in Virginia.