Our week-long look at Fort Drum's move to a new morning workout routine ends with the post officially cutting the ribbon on its brand new Functional Fitness center. Drum's Commanding General told a large crowd that this change isn't just about exercise, but it's change in culture. Our Brian Dwyer was at the ceremony Friday, and gives us a first look at what will certainly be a major part of the Major General Mark Milley's legacy - his "Ultimate Exercise" - as he gets ready to say goodbye to Fort Drum.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- "In order to survive in combat, you must be fit," said Maj. Gen. Mark Milley, Fort Drum Commanding General. "It's not just about looking good and being on the front pages of Men's Health. This is all about combat and it's all about fit for duty."
With the cut of a ribbon, Fort Drum's brand new Functional Fitness center is now open. It's a vision, an entire change of culture that didn't happen overnight.
Drum's command planned for over a year. The design, the construction, the deliveries and this man, Randy Gillette, helping to put it all together.
"It's the model facility that all US Army bases will be going to," said Randy Gillette, Functional Fitness center manager.
And starting Monday, all 20,000 soldiers at Fort Drum can get first crack.
"When you're at 6,000, 7,000, 8,000 feet and you've got 100 pounds of stuff on you, you better be it. You're going to get in contact and fitness may determine whether you live or you die," said Maj. Gen. Milley.
All about keeping soldiers safe. Everything from saving lives to preventing injuries. Functional Fitness is also designed to keep soldiers on the battlefield and away from the medics.
"It's about building endurance and stamina and strength, flexibility, power and speed," said Lt. Col. Sean Bernabe, 1st BCT Deputy Commanding Officer. "If you look at the challenges of the battlefield, the soldier on any given day is expected to be able to all those skills."
"A lot of times a better fit soldier will act and react to the stresses of combat in a much more healthy way," said Maj. Rob Montz, Guthrie Medical Clinic Chief of Occupational Therapy.
And as we saw all this week, the new gym is just the start. There are renovations happening everywhere. Smaller gyms are being built all over the post. Easy access can mean more participation.
"If we distribute these centralized fitness programs, train the trainers and then put the resources into it in terms of the place and we have a program and procedure, an SOP to work it, then we will in fact, enhance the fitness of 20,000 soldiers and enhance their combat effectiveness," said Maj. Gen. Milley.
The 10th Mountain Division. Climb to Glory. So often we hear about that glory, but this, this is all about the climb.
"This division has always been disciplined. This has been a great division and all these programs here will just get us to the next level, the next mountain in order for all of us to Climb to Glory," said Maj. Gen. Milley.
Just Thursday, we learned that Major General Milley is soon to become Lieutenant General Milley. He's been nominated by the president to run Fort Hood in Texas, and will be given a third star.