From 1953 to 1963, the U.S. Army produced THE BIG PICTURE television show. Part history lesson, part recruiting tool and part propaganda, the show was widely embraced by the public. Hundreds of episodes — over 500 — chronicled nearly every aspect of the U.S. military’s history and Cold War capabilities.
This particular episode PLATOON LEADER focuses on Fort Benning, Georgia. Some of the infantry training depicted is clearly directed at fighting in Vietnam and SE Asia, which was ramping up at the time.
Fort Benning is a United States Army post outside Columbus, Georgia. Fort Benning supports more than 120,000 active-duty military, family members, reserve component soldiers, retirees, and civilian employees on a daily basis. It is a power projection platform, and possesses the capability to deploy combat-ready forces by air, rail, and highway. Fort Benning is the home of the United States Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, the United States Army Armor School, United States Army Infantry School, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas), elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment, 3rd Brigade – 3rd Infantry Division, and many other additional tenant units.
Since 1918, Fort Benning has served as the Home of the Infantry.
During World War II Fort Benning had 197,159 acres (797.87 km²) with billeting space for 3,970 officers and 94,873 enlisted persons. Home to the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (United States), their training began in December 1943 and was an important milestone for black Americans, as was explored in the first narrative history of the installation, Home of the Infantry. The battalion, later expanded to become the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, was trained at Fort Benning but did not deploy overseas. During this period, the specialized duties of the Triple Nickel were primarily in a firefighting role, with over one thousand parachute jumps as smoke jumpers. The 555th was secretly deployed to the Pacific Northwest of the United States in response to the concern that forest fires were being set by the Japanese military using long-range incendiary balloons. The 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion was activated July 15, 1940 and trained at the Fort. The 17th Armored Engineer Battalion became active and started training July 15, 1940.
The 4th Infantry Division, first of four divisions committed by the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, reorganized and completed its basic training at Fort Benning (Sand Hill and Harmony Church areas) from October 1950 to May 1951, when it deployed to Germany for five years.
During the spring of 1962 General Herbert B. Powell, Commanding General, U.S. Continental Army Command, directed that all instruction at the Infantry School after July 1 reflect Reorganization Objective Army Division structures. Therefore, the Infantry School asked for permission to reorganize the 1st Infantry Brigade under a ROAD structure. Instead, the Army Staff decided to inactivate the Pentomic-structured brigade and replace it with a new ROAD unit, the 197th Infantry Brigade, which resolved a unit designation issue. With the designation 1st Infantry Brigade slated to return to the 1st Infantry Division when it converted to ROAD, the existing unit at Fort Benning required a new title. The staff selected an infantry brigade number that had been associated with an Organized Reserve division that was no longer in the force. For the new ROAD brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia, the adjutant general on August 1, 1962 restored elements of the 99th Reconnaissance Troop, which thirty years earlier had been organized by consolidating infantry brigade headquarters and headquarters companies of the 99th Infantry Division, as Headquarters and Headquarters Companies, 197th and 198th Infantry Brigades.
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