Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, who has extensive special operations experience, assumes command of Fort Benning from Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster at an 8 a.m. ceremony Friday on the parade field behind the National Infantry Museum.
McMaster, selected for promotion to lieutenant general, has been reassigned to Fort Monroe, Va., where he will serve as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, Training and Doctrine Command. He has been in charge of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning for two years.
McMaster knows Miller well and said Fort Benning is in good hands.
"The Army could not have picked a better leader to lead Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center," said McMaster, 51. "Scott Miller has, I think, the greatest diversity in combat experience of any officer I know, and in peacetime experience as well. He has served in all kinds of Army formations."
Miller was an Army captain who fought in the October 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, the subject of a book and movie entitled "Black Hawk Down." He was the ground commander for Delta Force, an elite special operations unit involved in the battle alongside Army Rangers and was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions.
"He led soldiers with great distinction in the very difficult Battle of Mogadishu 20 years ago," McMaster said. "And he has served with great distinction in both Iraq and in Afghanistan. And he has accomplished things as a leader that I think are unprecedented in our Army's history."
Ret. Lt. Gen. Carmen Cavezza met Miller for the first time Wednesday night at a private reception in Columbus for Miller and McMaster.
"I am impressed," Cavezza said. "And he wants to be here. When you look at his record, I am sure he had some options about where he went."
The special operations background should serve Miller well in his command of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Cavezza said.
"When you look for a guy in special ops, you look for a good soldier who not only meets the physical requirements, but also meets the mental requirements," Cavezza said. "He meets that. To be a good special ops guy, you have to be a good infantryman."
The same goes for a general office, McMaster said.
"They call you a general for a reason, right?" McMaster said. "Because you're suppose to have some general confidences, not just specific ones. So, there's nobody who has a broader range of experience. Our Special Forces, for example, they don't operate on their own. They are operating connected with what all our Army forces are doing and what our joint forces are doing in both Iraq and Afghanistan."
In 2010, Miller commanded a Special Forces group that trained Afghan National Civil Order Police units. The work included isolating the Taliban enemy from populations, McMaster said.
"Something like that has never been done on that kind of a scale," he said. "And what he has done in Afghanistan is tremendous."
McMaster calls Miller "the most accomplished and talented soldier" he knows, with a broad range of experience that also includes command of a mechanized infantry company and experience with the Rangers.
"So, in terms of professional knowledge that can be applied to our key areas of leader development and education, training, doctrine and combat development," McMaster said, "there's nobody better than Scott Miller to do that."
Both McMaster and Miller are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy.
Retired Lt. Col. Kevin Hyneman has known Miller for about 20 years, and the two men have been stationed together. Hyneman currently works for a defense contractor.
"Although Maj. Gen. Miller is an infantryman, our Army has been fighting as a combined arms army -- with infantry fighting along side armor and cavalrymen for years," Hyneman said. "In recent history, our military has fully incorporated special operations forces with conventional forces. All of these experiences will directly translate to the challenges and opportunities that the Maneuver Center of Excellence will face under Maj. Gen. Miller's leadership."
Hyneman said Miller has an extensive training background that will serve Fort Benning well.
"His experience will complement Maj. Gen. McMaster's efforts quite nicely," Hyneman said. "Maj. Gen. Miller is a true professional and a very genuine leader. Fort Benning and the local community are blessed to have him return to the area."
Cavezza, who has held key positions with the city of Columbus and Fort Benning since his retirement, believes Miller will be an asset to Columbus.
"The Benning position is a very demanding job," Cavezza said. "It is one of the toughest jobs I ever had. He has to focus on the game -- the game is at Benning and all the stuff that is going on in the Army today. But he will be a key player in Columbus. And I am convinced he knows how to deal with all that."