COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — High-ranking Army officials, their family members and infantry soldiers gathered at the National Infantry Museum (NIM). They were there to watch as leadership of the U.S. Army Infantry School transferred from Brig. Gen. Larry Q. Burris to Brig. Gen. Monte L. Rone.
Ahead of the formalities, Burris paused for a moment to reflect on his time as commandant of the Infantry School, as well as his hopes for its future under Rone.
“I think the greatest thing that we were able to accomplish here was updating our programs and instruction to make them relevant to what we see in the operational environment today,” said Burris, who was instated as commandant of the Infantry School in August of 2021.
The infantry commandant is also serves as Chief of Infantry and director of the Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team.
Burris felt the greatest challenge of the job was first understanding the process to make changes within Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). After taking some time to get acquainted, Burris said he was successful in making significant improvements upon Infantry School curriculum and training.
One such change is the amount of anti-armor- and heavy weapons training Infantry School soldiers receive. Prior to Russia’s Feb. 2022 invasion of Ukraine, this programming was featured in a single day of instruction. As a result of Burris’ initiative, the training has expanded to a full week of instruction.
Other updates made by Burris include increased planning practice for soldiers in Fort Moore’s Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course (IBOLC) and updates to the Army Ranger program “to make sure that we stay relevant as we move forward.”
These included an adjustment in Ranger School progression and certification standards. Whereas an average 51% of Lieutenants previously passed Ranger Assessment and Selection (RASP), that number has increased to 94% over the course of Burris’ tenure, according to Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) Commander Curtis A. Buzzard.
Burris’ relationship with Rone goes back decades. The outgoing commandant revealed he and his successor went to graduate school together. Later, they lived two doors down from each other as they attended the Commanding General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Hood. Burris called Rone his friend.
The outgoing commandant said, “I think he is exactly the right person to take the Infantry School forward, as well as the Cross Functional Team.”
“I’m extremely grateful to be back here at Fort Moore,” said Rone ahead of the ceremony.
He was last in Columbus 28 years ago as a second lieutenant. In a full-circle moment, his son Spc. Justin Rone is set to graduate from Infantry One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Fort Moore tomorrow morning.
Rone said a wide array of experience is what he hopes to bring to his new role. He noted he has lead Stryker brigade, an airborne brigade and more. He is also a prior-enlisted soldier, having been enlisted from 1990 to 1995. Rone most recently served as Deputy Chief of Staff Operations for Multinational Corps Northeast at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Poland.
According to Rone, his greatest strength as a leader his consistency.
“The goal remains the same,” said Rone. “It’s all about staying fit, inspired, disciplined, trained and ready. Those are the five things I try to live by.”
Just as Rone was glad to be back at Fort Moore, Burris was also grateful for his time at the base.
The outgoing Infantry School commandant said, “I think it’s been the highlight of my career to be able to come back here to Fort Moore to finish out where every infantry soldier started.”
During the ceremony, a change of leadership was accomplished through a passing of the Army Infantry school colors. The colors, which represent the unity, loyalty and readiness of infantry soldiers, were passed from guardian of the colors Command Sgt. Maj. Jason P. Dein, to Burris, then Buzzard and finally to Rone, who returned the colors to Dein.
The MCoE commander’s remarks during the ceremony touched on the importance of the role which Burris has left and Rone has stepped into.
“People come to Fort Moore to get better and we must deliver. … [S]oldiers and leaders should leave here knowing what right looks like and with no bad habits,” said Buzzard.
He referred back to a phrase he said was often repeated by one of Fort Moore’s namesakes, Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore: “There’s no second place in combat.”