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Armor advance parties arrive from Fort Knox

FORT BENNING, Ga. — Armor School quartering parties from the 194th Armor Brigade and 316th Cavalry Brigade at Fort Knox, Ky., are arriving at Fort Benning and will be in place by the end of next week.

COL Michael Wadsworth, the Armor School assistant commandant, said the advance groups — which number about 70 people overall — are headed to Harmony Church to pave the way for future waves of Armor and Cavalry Soldiers next year.

“The purpose of each advance party is to coordinate with the (Maneuver Center of Excellence) and garrison staffs in order to set conditions for the arrival of their respective brigade main bodies,” he said. “This is significant as it represents another major milestone in building the necessary command-and-control capability at Harmony Church to enable the disciplined transfer of Armor School training from Fort Knox to Fort Benning.”

The largest personnel increases will occur in July and August of 2011, he said.

MCoE officials said each brigade quartering party includes representatives who will establish functions for supply, personnel, operations and training, communications and facilities at Harmony Church. They’ll set up and operate from recently completed headquarters buildings to coordinate the receipt and occupation of new facilities that will serve as platforms for Armor training here.

“They’re here to get into the new facilities … and start coordinating with the other organizations on post for the relocation and arrival of the first courses that are going to be moving from Fort Knox to Fort Benning,” said Dan Reynolds of the MCoE relocation operations cell.

CW4 Trent Hanson, officer in charge of the 194th Armor Brigade’s advance party, actually arrived at Fort Benning in mid-January but wasn’t officially reassigned here until late April. He and the unit’s human resources assistant moved to Harmony Church three weeks ago to begin setup of brigade headquarters at Building 4300.

So far, the brigade has received one advance party representing two units, Hanson said: Headquarters and Headquarters Company and 3rd Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment. The number of unit personnel stands at 22, but more are set to complete permanent-changes-of-station in August, while another advance group comes in from Fort Knox the following month.

“The 194th is working hard to ensure the integration of our Soldiers and civilians in the Fort Benning community is smooth and painless,” he said. “Our first (advance party) was a success with military and civilian housing. The housing office did a great job.”

After settling in, the focus will shift to prepping for the first Armor School course here, he said. The M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle System Maintainer class — advanced individual training for Bradley maintainers — kicks off Jan. 10. It’s taught by instructors from 3rd Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment.