FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (July 15, 2021) Col. Robert Arnold relinquished command of the 14th Military Police Brigade to Col. Kirk Whittenberger during a ceremony July 14 on Gammon Field.
The reviewing officer for the ceremony was Brig. Gen. Niave Knell, U.S. Army Military Police School commandant.
Knell said Arnold has “a lot to be proud of,” as, under his command, more than 15,000 civilians became MP Soldiers and 4,000 more graduated Basic Combat Training with the 1st Battalion, 58th Infantry Regiment before its inactivation in September 2020.
“Although COVID-19 impacted everything last year, this brigade did not let that impact training,” Knell said.
Knell also noted that Arnold successfully introduced a new, more motivating way to welcome trainees, called Operation Hammer Drop, which replaced the old “shark attack” method with inspirational demonstrations of MP capabilities. Arnold was also charged with the introduction of the Army Combat Fitness Test and the fielding of the M17 service pistol across the brigade.
“Rob, you commanded and led extremely well, and you leave behind a phenomenal unit,” she said. “Congratulations, and be very proud of what you have done here over the past two years.”
Knell called Whittenberger — who arrives here from an assignment with the National Joint Operations and Intelligence Center at the Pentagon — a “compassionate, extraordinary leader with experience at every echelon in the Army.”
“He’s going to be a fantastic commander,” she said.
Arnold thanked the Soldiers and civilians of his “Team Dragoon” brigade.
“I could not be prouder of Team Dragoon for your caring and engaged leadership and for fostering a strong sense of teamwork which placed our people first and enabled us to own the mission and own the issues,” he said.
He spoke on the “meaningful culture changes” that occurred under his command, including the incorporation of functional fitness, the ACFT and the Holistic Health and Fitness initiative.
“This has gone extremely well, with our cadre embracing this culture and with most of our trainees passing their final ACFT — some even with a perfect score of 600,” he said, adding about the COVID-19 environment: “The measures we put in place allowed us to safely accomplish our mission to train the future of the MP Regiment.”
Arnold called Whittenberger “the right leader to take the brigade to the next level,” and offered some advice.
“Trust your leaders,” Arnold said. “They’re amongst the very best I’ve ever served with. Enjoy your time in command. It’ll be challenging, but extremely rewarding, personally and professionally.”
Whittenberger said he is “excited and appreciative” to be returning to Fort Leonard Wood — he previously served here as director of Plans and Operations at USAMPS.
He promised three things to the Soldiers and civilians of the brigade, the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and the Fort Leonard Wood community.
“One, I’m not as scary as I look,” he said. “Two, I’ll be the leader and teammate that I expect others to be; and third, the privilege of commanding this organization will never be lost on me.”
About Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 75 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains more than 80,000 military and civilians each year.
Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.
Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.
More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/about/mission