Fort Pickett welcomes new garrison commander

Brig. Gen. Walter Mercer, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Army, presents the organizational colors for Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett to Lt. Col. Paul Gravely  Feb. 3, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia, signifying  change of garrison command from Col. Preston Scott, Jr., to Gravely.  (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen)

FORT PICKETT, Va.– Lt. Col. Paul Gravely took command of Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett from Col. Preston Scott, Jr., Feb. 3, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Brig. Gen. Walter Mercer, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Army, presided over the exchange of organizational colors that represented the change of garrison command from Scott to Gravely.

“Both of these officers are solid leaders and will continue to contribute to our national security as senior leaders for years to come,” Mercer said. “You can rest assured that the leadership of the MTC is passing from one excellent leader to another.”

Mercer described Scott as “the right leader at the right time” to lead the efforts at MTC for a number of significant milestones including setting the conditions to get the State Department to establish the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at Fort Pickett, growing support for the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program and focusing on process improvements to make Fort Pickett more efficient.

“I know that your leadership and your ability to problem solve, listen and communicate at the strategic level have been the key reasons for our great success,” Mercer said about Scott.”You have shown a level of professionalism and strong leadership that has made the senior leaders of the state proud, and you have also clearly earned the trust and respect of your Soldiers and leaders.”

Scott will succeed Col. Kerry Dull as the chief of staff of the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division.

Mercer pointed out some specific significant accomplishments during Scott’s time in command including supporting an average of 110,000 service members averaging over 400,000 “mandays” of training annually, establishing a joint use agreement for the Blackstone Army Air Field which directly contributed to a 400% increase in investments over the last four years and establishing three new dining facilities, a medical readiness flight physical facility, a new post headquarters and completing renovation of numerous World War II-era barracks to bring the modernization to 50% completion.

He also commended Scott for the work done to incorporate a master storm water management plan into the Fort Pickett Master Plan which will significantly contribute to outstanding environmental compliance history at Fort Pickett and will provide cost savings in all future installation construction efforts, as well as completing a multi-year fiber optic installation plan that will greatly enhance the ability for units to stay connected to necessary data systems to aid and document training.

“It has been a pleasure to serve as the 50th garrison commander at Fort Pickett,” Scott said. “Words cannot express the pride I have in this Maneuver Training Center team. These years that I have been allowed to lead this organization have been some of the best in my military career. This team provides the highest quality support even when asked to do it with limited resources.”

Gravely is no stranger to the operation of MTC, having served as the director of plans, training and security since 2001.

“Lt. Col. Gravely comes into this command with a diverse resume which includes an impressive amount of deployed time and command and operational experience,” Mercer said. “He understands the MTC mission set, the unique needs of this installation, and what it will take to continue to improve on what Col. Scott has done here. He is a strong leader, a quiet man of character and Soldier-focused leader. I trust him completely and look forward to seeing great things happen with MTC under his leadership.”

Gravely said his goals are to continue renovations on the installation, enhance training opportunities for units who visit the installation, emphasize the Army Compatible Use Buffer and continue developing the important relationships with the Town of Blackstone, Nottoway County, Dinwiddie County and the Department of State.

“We are fortunate to have great support from our surrounding localities, and those important relationships are something I hope to continue to build,” Gravely said. “Many of the state employees who keep MTC running are from this area, and we count on their skills and strong work ethic to provide the best resources possible for units who come here to train.”

Gravely resides in Dinwiddie County with his wife and son.

Mercer, Scott and Gravely all thanked the families of both the outgoing and incoming commander for their sacrifice and support.

“None of us could meet the demands of being senior leaders in the National Guard without the support and sacrifice of our families that allows us to do what we do,” Mercer said.

The Troutville-based 29th Division Band provided music for the ceremony.

Maj. Gen. Timothy Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, announced Gravely as the new commander Dec. 13, 2017.

“Please join me in congratulating this exceptional officer on his new command,” Williams wrote in the announcement. “Lt. Col. Gravely has completed a successful assignment as the plans, training and mobilization manager at the Maneuver Training Center. I have no doubt he will continue to serve with distinction in his new assignment.”

“Col. Scott leaves a legacy of leadership and selfless service to the Virginia Army National Guard and its regional partners who train at MTC,” Williams wrote. “We thank him for his many contributions to the Virginia National Guard and are confident he will excel in his new assignment.”

Fort Pickett is comprised of approximately 41,000 acres and is operated by the Virginia National Guard. It features a combination of open and wooded terrain maneuver areas and 21 ranges capable of supporting almost any weapons system in the U. S. Army inventory. In addition, the installation has a rail spur and C-17 capable airfield as well as barracks to support more than 5,000 personnel. Morale, welfare and recreation facilities include a gym, post exchange and leisure center.

Biographies for Col. Scott and Lt. Col. Gravely:

Scott received his commission from the Virginia Military Academy Officer Candidate School in 1992. After graduating from OCS, he served as a fire support officer, battery executive officer and battery commander in for the Hampton-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment. Upon completion of his battery command, he was selected for a Title 10 tour as the Army School System Integration Officer for the Training and Doctrine Command with duty at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. In 2005, he was assigned as an operations officer for the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia.

Scott returned to the Virginia Army National Guard in 2006 when he was assigned as the battalion operations officer for 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, and he would later serve as the battalion executive officer and battalion commander. In 2010, following his battalion command, Scott was assigned as the brigade operations officer for the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team as the brigade deployed to Afghanistan. In 2012, he was reassigned as the brigade fire support coordinator. In July of 2013, Scott was assigned as the Virginia Army National Guard deputy operations officer. And in April of 2014, Scott assumed command of the Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett.

Scott is a graduate of the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Joint Forces Staff College and the United States Army War College. He holds a Bachelors degree in Criminology from Saint Leo University, a Masters in Military Arts and Science from Fort Leavenworth University and a Masters in Strategic Studies from the Unites States Army War College.

Scott’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Unit Award, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (Gold) and the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara.

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Gravely began his U.S. Army career in October 1995 as a private in the Bluefield, West Virginia-based 1st Battalion, 150th Armor Regiment. In 1997, he attended Officer Candidate School at the 197th Regional Training Institute at Camp Dawson, West Virginia, and in June 1998 commissioned as an Armor Officer. He served in various company-grade assignments in both the West Virginia and Virginia Army National Guard including service as company-level commander in both the 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment and the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment. His field grade assignments include serving as the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team chief of operations, duty at the Joint Staff, J7-South in Suffolk, Joint Exercise and Training Division, Fort Pickett range operations officer and executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment. He commanded 1st Battalion, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute from Sept. 1, 2015, to Oct. 1, 2017. He is currently attending the U.S. Army War College through the Department of Distance Education.

Gravely served on two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. His awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2nd Award), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (7th Award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Afghanistan Campaign Medal (with Campaign Star), Iraq Campaign Medal (with Campaign Star), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with “M” Device and Bronze Hour Glass), Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Ribbon, Non Article 5 NATO Medal, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge, and the Order of St. George.

Gravely is a native of Lashmeet, West Virginia. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Bluefield State College.


More on this story and Fort Pickett:

About Mr. Cotton Puryear

Mr. Cotton Puryear is the state public affairs officer for the Virginia Department of Military Affairs. He retired from uniformed service in June 2010 after almost 24 years of active duty U. S. Army and Army National Guard service.