FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) – We recently introduced you to Fort Benning’s new Commanding General and now we’re hearing more from Major General Curtis Buzzard about changes in training, military housing, technology and more.
Numbers show the U.S. military is struggling lately to get enough people to fill our armed forces. In our exclusive interview with Fort Benning’s new commanding general, he calls the recruitment challenges a national security issue.
“We’re seeing a decrease in the number qualified and willing to serve. That’s concerning,” MG Curtis Buzzard told us.
He also said some of the reasons for fewer recruits are physical fitness standards and body composition, but the Army is all in to solve the problem. They’re already doing what’s called “future soldier prep courses” to help troops meet testing requirements, while keeping standards the same.
“A whole lot more physical fitness, more time behind a weapon, so a lot more proficiency, medical skills,” MG Buzzard added. And the normal 15-week basic training is now more than a month longer, called OSUT or One Station Unit Training.
“We have made some adjustments and I think we’ve seen our attrition numbers shrink. The 22 weeks allows us time, should someone get hurt,” MG Buzzard said.
Some military families across the U.S. have testified their housing has mold and other threats to their health – prompting Senators to pour a lot more money into repairing substandard base housing.
Major General Buzzard tells us, he wants to make sure where soldiers live on Fort Benning is a first class experience – and huge investments have already been made for their historic housing.
“They’ve done a great job modernizing those, mitigating the risk from legacy housing,” he told us. “We just finished 100% inspection of all the barracks, we also want to make sure where unaccompanied soldiers are staying is the best it can be.”
MG Buzzard is hoping to see an increase in basic housing allowance for housing rates soon. One thing that is on the rise is the use of technology by Fort Benning soldiers, in part because what’s being used in the war between Ukraine and Russia.
“Robotics is a concept, artificial intelligence, the proliferation of sensors, unmanned aeriel systems,” he said.
And after two years battling COVID-19, restricting engagement between Fort Benning and the Chattahoochee Valley, Major General Buzzard has met with local city leaders and wants to double down on community involvement.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been somewhere where the post is so tightly linked to the community,” MG Buzzard said too.
Already active on social media, the new Commanding General’s latest tweet is “Come join the best team in the planet – the US Army.”
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