A study is under way to determine the feasibility of relocating the Army's Sergeants Major Academy - along with its full-time staff of 280 people and an annual rotation of about 650 noncommissioned officers - from Fort Bliss, Texas, to Fort Leavenworth.
Stephan Nolan, a spokesman for Fort Leavenworth, said the idea for the move was proposed by Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, and was in "very preliminary" stages.
"This is a predecisional study, a feasibility study, to bring the Sergeants Major Academy to Fort Leavenworth," Nolan said.
The Sergeants Major Academy draws the Army's top noncommissioned officers - master sergeants, first sergeants and sergeants major - and instructs them in leadership, resource management, training management and military operations. In addition to the nine-month annual course, the academy also conducts hundreds of shorter courses every year.
A consulting firm will analyze whether there would be room for the academy at Fort Leavenworth, including its impact on housing and existing schools at the fort. It also will look at benefits of moving the academy.
The Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth is known as the "intellectual center of the Army" with its Command and General Staff College already training 1,200 majors annually to be the Army's next generation of leaders. The study will examine whether bringing the Army's senior noncommissioned officers to Fort Leavenworth for training could provide enhanced team-building opportunities.
No actual relocation would be anticipated for at least five years, Nolan said.
Any attempt to move the academy is expected to trigger political opposition.
Congressman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, represents the district that includes Fort Bliss. When news of the relocation study became known there, Reyes told the El Paso Times, "I continue my strong support of the Army's Sergeants Major Academy and believe that Fort Bliss remains the best location for the academy. This isn't the first time this has come up, and now, as then, we believe there's no justification for this to take place."
Tim Holverson, executive vice president of the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce, said relocating the academy to Fort Leavenworth would be a boon to the area on several fronts, including the civilian jobs it would bring with it. But the biggest benefit, he said, was less tangible.
"It just would raise the profile of our entire community - Leavenworth, Lansing and Fort Leavenworth. : It would be a real feather in our cap," Holverson said.