Brig. Gen. David B. Haight, commandant of the U.S. Infantry School at Fort Benning, said goodbye to the post where he guided the training of more than 42,000 soldiers over the last 15 months.
“We have been able to learn a lot of lessons from about a decade plus of war,” Haight said minutes after a farewell at McGinnis-Wickam Hall. “We incorporated those lessons into the curriculum we teach here in over 93 courses at the Maneuver Center of Excellence.”
Haight, a native of Fairfax, Va., has been reassigned as the deputy commanding officer, Regional Command-East in Afghanistan. No decision has been made on his successor, but the position will be filled temporarily until a new chief is selected.
Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said Haight is the right person for the position in Afghanistan. “He is the right person at a critical time in Afghanistan,” McMaster said. “There is no one better.”
Haight officially assumed duties of the Infantry School on Aug. 3, 2012, less than a year after the Armor School completed its move from Fort Knox, Ky., as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. The rigorous courses taught at the Infantry School not only prepares infantry soldiers but also the armor and cavalry.
“We are now more combined arms focus, so we achieve overmatch in battle with not just infantry but with cavalry and armor,” Haight said.
McMaster recognized Haight as a tremendous leader for his efforts in combat development and squad foundation, ensuring the Army doesn’t have fair fights. “The enemy should recognize that what’s going to happen to them is complete over match,” the post commander said. “David has been an awesome leader in combat development as well as leader development.”
Haight and other leaders faced challenges in training amid multiple civilian furloughs and reduced budgets throughout the armed forces. Dollars also will be tight in the future.
“Sometimes it can be kind of trite, but we are going to have to in fact do more with less,” the commandant said. “We have to be more efficient, more effective and wring out every last drop of training dollars we are given.”
While the dollars are stretched, the Army must maintain the rigor of the courses with a smaller budget. “We have to prioritize where we can and train as extensively as we have in the past,” he said.
Since he was commissioned a lieutenant in 1986, Haight said Columbus is no longer an old Army town.
“Now, it is a very progressive, entrepreneurial city,” Haight said. “Columbus is a classy place to live now. I’m going to miss the community in Columbus and quite frankly I’m going to miss some of my riding buddies I have come to ride with in my new hobby of riding my Harley-Davidson in those groups.”
Haight described the area as home for his wife, Bonnie, and their four children. Two of his three daughters, Shannon and Kelly, were born just five years apart in the same delivery room at Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning. The couple were left as empty nesters when their youngest daughter, Heather, went off to college. Their son, Spc. David Haight Jr., is a Ranger with the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
While Haight is in Afghanistan, his wife will move to Fort Belvoir, Va.