Fort Gordon, located southwest of Augusta, trains more military personnel than any other training center of the U.S. Army. The installation’s multifaceted mission encompasses force integration and mobilization in times of national need. Fort Gordon was originally called Camp Gordon in honor of John B. Gordon, who was a major general in the Confederate army, a Georgia governor, a U.S. senator, and a businessman. On March 21, 1956, the base was renamed Fort Gordon.
World War II
In mid-1940, with the threat of war looming, army officials began looking for sites that would be suitable for a division training area. By May 1941 an area in Richmond County had been selected for one of these new training areas. In July the U.S. War Department approved a contract to construct facilities on the new installation; the cost was estimated to be $24 million. An official groundbreaking and flag-raising ceremony took place in October.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, brought the United States into World War II (1941-45) and forced the army to open Camp Gordon earlier than expected. On December 9 Colonel Herbert W. Schmid, camp commander, moved his small staff from his temporary office in the Augusta post office building to the incomplete headquarters building at Camp Gordon. At the same time the 4th Infantry Division began moving to Camp Gordon, establishing the installation as one of the army’s significant training facilities.
The 56,000-acre training site was home to three divisions during the war: the 4th Infantry, the 26th Infantry, and the 10th Armored. After undergoing training at Camp Gordon, these units were shipped to the European theater of operations, where they each served with distinction. From October 1943 to January 1945 Camp Gordon served as an internment camp for foreign prisoners of war. From May 1945 until April 1946 the U.S. Army Personnel and Separation Center processed nearly 86,000 personnel for discharge from the army.
Fort Gordon since World War II
From early 1946 to June 1947, the U.S. Army Disciplinary Barracks for convicted criminals was located at Camp Gordon, and the installation was scheduled for deactivation. However, the cold war brought an increased emphasis on military preparedness and gave new life to Gordon. In September 1948 the army relocated the Military Police School from Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, to Camp Gordon, and in October 1948 a Signal Corps training center was activated.
From the 1950s through the 1970s Fort Gordon served as a basic-training facility. It also provided advanced individual training for troops. During the Vietnam War (1964-73), personnel who were headed for Southeast Asia trained for a few days in one of two mock Vietnamese villages at Fort Gordon.
Fort Gordon’s Current Status
Since June 1986 Fort Gordon has housed the U.S. Signal Corps, the branch of the U.S. Army responsible for providing and maintaining information systems and communication networks. The Signal Corps training center’s primary purpose is to conduct specialized instruction for all Signal Corps military and civilian personnel. Marine corps, army, navy, air force, and multinational personnel also train at Fort Gordon.
Several units are responsible for supporting the “real-world” operations located at Fort Gordon. The 93rd Signal Brigade, with its 63rd and 67th Signal battalions, supports the Commander in Chief Southern Command and the U.S. Army Southern Command operations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The 513th Military Intelligence Brigade is a tactical, theater-level military intelligence unit consisting of five battalions. Of these, the 201st, 202nd, and 297th Military Intelligence battalions are located at Fort Gordon. These units conduct operations in theater-level, multidisciplined intelligence; force projection; electronic warfare; and information-warfare operations that support the army’s U.S. Central Command and other deploying forces engaged in war or operations other than war.
Fort Gordon is home to the Gordon Regional Security Operations Center (GRSOC), part of the Department of Defense’s system of Regional Security Operation Centers. The GRSOC is made up of personnel from the army, air force, marine corps, and navy. They provide a variety of intelligence services supporting the U.S. Central Command, the U.S. European Command, and the U.S. Special Operations Command.
Several agencies provide mission support to the Signal center and to the army. The Directorate of Combat Developments serves as the architect for battlefield communications, and the Battle Command Battle Lab, one of three labs chartered by the Training and Doctrine Command, studies the functional command area on the battlefield.
The U.S. Army, Fort Gordon, and the National Science Center partnered to create Fort Discovery, an interactive educational center for the public. Located in a 128,000-square-foot, two-story building in downtown Augusta, the center features 280 hands-on exhibits. Fort Discovery also operates two 18-wheel vans, which travel the United States to generate interest in science and to serve as a visual recruiting tool for the army, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
Fort Gordon is a major employer in the central Savannah River area and in Augusta. Approximately 11,000 military and civilian personnel work at the installation. The post generates an annual impact of about $1 billion to the area’s economy