Vicksburg Reserve command to see increase in staff

Published 11:53 pm Saturday, August 12, 2006

Realignment of Army Reserve forces will put thousands of additional soldiers under the command of a Vicksburg post, bringing an increase in support staff to the 412th Engineer Command.

Maj. Marshall Banks, a 412th spokesman, said the command will take on about 5,000-6,000 soldiers as part of a shift in resources. The 412th will take command of the 926th Engineer Group headquartered in Montgomery, Ala.

“All of those folks will not necessarily be housed here in Vicksburg,” Banks said this week. “Those units are in different areas on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. But there will be an increase of full time staff here at the 412th.”

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The transformation will begin in October, Banks said. Within two years, the 412th will have more than 11,000 soldiers under its command in an area that spans the East Coast from Maine to Florida.

“What we’re doing is transitioning command and control from the 81st Regional Readiness Command to the 412 Engineer Command,” Banks said. “It’s really a transfer of authority … of all of their engineer units.”

The 81st Regional Readiness Command, based in Birmingham, Ala., was recommended for “disestablishment” in 2005 by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, a process commonly known as BRAC and used by the Pentagon to streamline the military.

Barry Morris, a civilian spokesman for Forces Command, said the changes to the 412th are part of the Army’s “Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy.”

“The really big picture is that we’re moving lots of the Army from overseas to the United States because we just don’t require nearly as large as a forward base presence as we used to in the past,” Morris said. “It saves a lot of money for the taxpayers once we get it all implemented.”

Maj. Gen. Robert Williamson, commander of the 412th, said in a statement that the complexity of transforming the 412th while the Army makes other changes is a massive undertaking.

“Fortunately, the cumulative effort of our exceptional soldiers and civilian employees, supported by well-prepared families and understanding employers, is a powerful synergy that is more than equal to the task,” he said.