Thursday, October 02, 2014
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History
Fort McClellan--Post World War II 
With the cessation of war with Japan, the number of trainees at Fort McClellan diminished and a corresponding reduction took place within the post complement. The WAC detachments were deactivated in 1945 and early 1946. The lean years following World War I were repeated after the Second World War as well, when a $2 billion budget cut was applied to Army appropriations. In response to the cuts, Fort McClellan was placed on inactive status and remained so despite immense pressure Alabama politicians tried to apply to Washington. Alabama's Congressional delegation even went so far as to invite Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Chief of Staff of the Army, to review the situation. On his visit, Eisenhower would admit that McClellan was a "jewel among Army installations," but he firmly supported the cut, noting that "sometimes a jewel must go when bread and meat are necessary".

The picture changed in 1950, as Fort McClellan was restored to active status under leadership of Brigadier General Theodore R. Wessels. The initial idea was to use the fort for National Guard training once again; to that end, the 44th Engineer Construction Battalion was ordered to McClellan to begin preparations. With the onset of the war in Korea, the 44th was ordered to the Far East Command before completing the mission at Fort McClellan. General Wessels remained dedicated to Fort McClellan. With $10 million in funding, he tackled the refurbishment with enthusiasm, restoring the parade grounds, ranges and lawns, thereby earning him the name "Father of the New Fort McClellan."

While political persuasion was useless in 1947, the situation was reversed in 1951, when the Army reactivated the fort to operate the Chemical Corps School, later the U.S. Army Chemical Center and School. Funding was appropriated to build new facilities for the school and construction was completed in 1954. The new Center offered eight weeks of basic training, followed by a similar stretch devoted to chemical training involving the operation of smoke grenades, flame throwers, decontamination procedures, and chemical warfare protection.

Fort McClellan's hospital was also refurbished to focus on the care of chest diseases, becoming known as the Specialized Treatment Center of the Third Army Area. The health facility functioned until 1955, when it was closed and the patients transferred. Another newcomer, the Women's Army Corps Center, was established in 1954. The WAC center acted as a receiving, processing and training center for all female inductees to the Army. Civilian summer training was also practiced at the fort in the early 1950s.

Another activity, the U.S. Army Combat Developments Command Chemical Biological-Radiological Agency, moved to Fort McClellan in 1962. It was later disestablished along with the Chemical School in 1973. To meet the requirement for the Vietnam War, an Advanced Individual Training Infantry Brigade was activated in 1966. With the mission change, the fort was renamed the U.S. Army School/Training Center and Fort McClellan. Due to continued force reductions in Vietnam, the brigade was deactivated in April 1970, after training more than 30,000 men.

Official ceremonies were held July 11, 1975, marking the move of the U.S. Army Military Police School from Fort Gordon, Georgia. A major reorganization of the post began in the fall of 1976 and was completed on May 13, 1977, when the colors of the Women's Army Corps Center and School were retired during ceremonies on Marshall Parade Field.

After reestablishment in December, 1979, the U.S. Army Chemical School relocated here from Aberdeen, Maryland, and joined the Military Police School and the Training Brigade to make Fort McClellan the only military installation in the United States with three major missions. Fort McClellan became 'home' for an average military population of about 10,000 people, including about 5,000 who are permanently assigned and employed about 1,500 civilians.
 


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