Fort Benning

Infantry, Armor school commandants heading for combat units

Commandants of both the Infantry School and the Armor School at Fort Benning are leaving the post this week for assignments in New York and Texas with combat units.

Col. Walter E. Piatt, who has been chief of the Infantry School since July of last year, is headed for the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., where he will become deputy commander of that outfit, the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning said today. Piatt’s promotion to brigadier general was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in April, but the date for receiving his first star has not been released, the public affairs office said.

Brig. Gen. Thomas S. James, who has headed the Armor School since June of last year, is bound for Fort Hood, Texas, where he will become deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division. James received his general’s star last August.

Piatt, a native of Somerset, Pa., enlisted in the Army in 1979, eventually receiving his second lieutenant commission in 1987 after graduating from Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania with a bachelor of science degree in biology.

James was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1987 after graduating from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., with a bachelor of science degree in business administration.

A send-off ceremony for both officers will take place Friday in Marshall Auditorium inside the Maneuver Center of Excellence headquarters, post spokeswoman Elsie Jackson said.

The replacements for Piatt and James have not been announced, and it likely will be next month before that occurs, she said.

“We don’t normally leave those spots open for longer than 30 days,” Jackson said. “The deputies will assume responsibility until the new commandants come in.”

The 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry unit that was first activated in 1943 and saw action in World War II. It also has deployed through the years to Somalia, Haiti and Kosovo, and participated in the Persian Gulf War and both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 1st Cavalry Division, which dates to 1921, is a heavy mechanized unit that has seen extensive combat through the years. Its troops fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.