Fort Benning

Fort Benning to hold public meeting, give live-fire weapons demonstration today

A longtime Upatoi resident said it’s an excellent idea for Fort Benning to hold a live-fire demonstration and briefing today for residents hearing training noise.

“I think it’s an excellent idea to have a little input on what’s going on out there so we can relate to it a little better than being left in the dark,” Lamar Beck said. “You can think of all kinds of things sitting at home trying to watch TV and you hear boom, boom, boom and you don’t have an explanation of what’s going on and what’s actually happening out there.”

Residents of Upatoi, Midland and other communities will get that chance from 3 to 4 p.m. when a live-fire weapons demonstration at Red Cloud Range will take place, followed by a 4:30 p.m. public meeting in Marshall Auditorium at McGinnis-Wickam Hall. Visitors will be able to watch Bradley Fighting Vehicles and the Stryker armored vehicle in action, said Brad Castleberry, a public affairs spokesman. The M1A1 Abrams tank will be at the range but won’t be fired.

“It’s going to explain to them why we make all the noise, why we do it at night and sort of justify the firing systems out there,” Castleberry said.

Beck, the operator of Goo-Goo Car Wash in Columbus, said his busy schedule won’t allow him to attend the open house but noted that noise still makes an impact in the area.

“When we moved out there 21 years ago, they were doing some firing out there at that time,” he said. “We didn’t realize we were anywhere near the firing range. It never entered my mind when we woke up in the middle of the night one night and it was like World War III was going on. We figured out that’s what the problem was. We sort of adjusted to it.”

Beck said you certainly learn to live with the training noise. His biggest concern is the late night hours in which some of the training occurs.

“I don’t get out much now after 10 or 11 unless I’m on a trip for something or trying to get home,” Beck said. “The best I can remember is it’s just as dark at 8 or 9 o’clock as it is at 3 o’clock in morning.”

Officials have said the night firing gives soldiers an idea of an environment to control the night.

“If they cut that stuff off at 12 o’clock, it would be a different story,” Beck said. “I hear it at 3 o’clock, but not as much as it was to begin with.”

To reduce firing, soldiers now get more training inside a simulator instead of a tank or Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Soldiers also use a quieter training round in weapons compared with the louder round used in combat.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, whose office has received numerous calls about training noise, was invited to the open house but won’t attend. She has to attend a pension board meeting.

Residents who want to attend the live-fire demonstration may park at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center and hop on a shuttle bus to the range. A bus also will be available for those who want to attend the briefing at McGinnis-Wickam Hall.

“A lot of people called and just want to get on the bus to go to the demonstration,” Castleberry said. “The buses are for both things. We have to get them from the briefing to the parking lot. We will remind them, “Are you sure you want to go to both things?”