Hundreds of soldiers from Fort Benning and across the country are expected at the 2012 Maneuver Conference when the annual event kicks off Monday at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.
The conference gives Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, and other military leaders a chance to focus on the moral, physical and cognitive components of the soldier.
"This is essential to prepare and employ the Army across the range of military operations," the commander said in a joint statement with Command Sgt. Maj. James J. Carabello. "At the Maneuver Center of Excellence, we are emphasizing these innovations in our training and educational programs of instructions."
Last year, the event attracted more than 1,500 to the trade center. The halls were filled with defense contractors displaying the latest technology while the sidewalks outside were filled with armored equipment and other military gear.
After a reception on Monday, the first full day of the conference on Tuesday will look at current and emerging threats, future vision, training and group sessions.
The Army has improved training and education in counter-improvised explosive device detection, cultural understanding, situational awareness, Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness and other areas. "These recent initiatives are enhancing leaders' ability to think critically and improving soldier combat effectiveness," the general said.
The highlight of the four-day conference is Wednesday when the Doughboy Award is presented to three individuals who have made significant and lifelong contributions to the U.S. Army Infantry.
The 2012 Order of the St. George Gold Medallion will recognize two men representing the best of armor and cavalry leaders.
Winners of the Doughboy Award are Lt. Gen. Robert F. Foley, Command Sgt. Maj. Tadeusz Gaweda and civilian Les Brownlee, a retired colonel who served as acting Secretary of the Army and under Secretary of the Army.
The award is a chrome replica of the helmet worn by American Expeditionary Force soldiers during World War I and the early part of World War II. It's the highest honor presented by the chief of infantry on behalf of the infantry community.
Recipients of the Gold Medallion are retired Brig. Gen. John Sherman Crow and William M. Bewley, a retired armor officer.
Last year, the Doughboy award was presented to Joe Galloway, award winning journalist and co-author of the book, "We Were Soldiers Once and Young,"; retired Gen. Edward S. "Shy" Meyer and retired Command Sgt. Maj. William H. Acebes.
McMaster will close the conference on Thursday.