Welcome to Fort Benning's Training Land Expansion Program Site


UPDATE: Released March 14, 2012
Training Land Expansion Program continues its current necessary pause

Draft EIS Released May 13, 2011
Click here to view

TLEP Picture 1

Maneuver Center of Excellence Mission

The Maneuver Center of Excellence provides Trained, Agile, Adaptive, and Ready Soldiers and Leaders for an Army at War, while developing Future requirements for the Individual Soldier, the Tactical Small Unit, and the Maneuver Force; and provides a World Class Quality of Life for our Soldiers, Army Families, and DA Civilians.


The United States Army Maneuver Center and Fort Benning will:

  • Prepare for the Future
  • Support an Army at War
  • Transform the MCoE Efficiently
  • Implement Comprehensive Soldier Fitness
  • Improve Soldier and Family Quality of Life
  • Command Climate of Teamwork & Trust
  • Demonstrate Inspired Leadership

Through the Army's Land Purchase Program Fort Benning has been authorized to study the potential purchase of up to 82,800 acres to support training requirements.

We are following the Department of Defense’s multi-step process of land acquisition. In August 2010, we began the environmental study required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the real estate study required by the Army’s Land Purchase Program. These two steps will result in an Environmental Impact Statement and Real Estate assessment and will take up to 15 months to complete. During this process there will be opportunity for community involvement and input.

Land adjacent to or in close proximity to our current boundary with low population density and that is undeveloped is preferred for potential purchase.

We invite participation in the process and welcome comments, preferably in writing, for inclusion in the study. Please check this site regularly for the latest information on this program or contact us at land.benning@us.army.mil or by phone at 706-545-8830.

  • Prior to the 2005 BRAC announcement the Army identified a training land shortfall at Fort Benning.

  • Fort Benning has been approved by the Under Secretary of Defense to study expanding its training land by up to 82,800 additional acres of land.

  • Additional land will provide maneuver capability for heavy maneuver battalions and elements of the Maneuver Center of Excellence to train simultaneously and allow Soldiers to train as they would fight.

  • Additional training land will provide units a greater variety of terrain and will provide training scenarios that will improve the realism of training.

  • The additional training land will give Soldiers the ability to exercise unit formations, weapons systems, logistics and command and control systems over extended, more realistic distances.

  • No decision will be made for specific land for purchase until completion of the environmental and real estate studies.

  • The Army Corps of Engineers performs all real estate functions for the Army.

  • Corps personnel will show identification and request permission from landowners prior to entering their land.

  • In June 2010 community involvement was offered through a public scoping period and meetings.

  • A Draft EIS will be published and will again provide the community opportunities for input via a public comment period and meetings.

  • The EIS ends with a Record of Decision and if purchase is feasible the Army will request authorization for funding to begin the acquisition process.

Frequently Asked Questions
How has Army training changed?
During the Cold War the core of our Army was large units called divisions (approximately 20,000 Soldiers). These divisions trained to fight in relatively small areas of Europe and required less training land. Today Brigade Combat Teams (BCT – approximately 3,500 Soldiers) form the core of our force and make our Army more deployable, flexible, lethal and adaptive. While Army units have gotten smaller the battlefield has become much larger requiring BCTs to operate over extended distance.
Most combat seems to take place in urban environments so why does the Army need to train in larger areas?
The national Military Strategy requires the Army to be prepared to fight full spectrum operations which includes rural and urban combat. We often see in media reports Soldiers operating in urban areas of Iraq, but Soldiers being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are often also responsible for controlling and operating over vast rural landscapes. Soldiers are currently deployed to over 80 different countries around the world. We must ensure that they are prepared to operate in many different rural and urban landscapes and across a variety of terrains, both now and in the future. The same Army training requirements exist in peacetime and wartime. Our Soldiers must be prepared to fight and win today’s and tomorrow’s wars.
Why does the Army need more training land?
As the Army transforms, units at all levels are required by doctrine to operate across a larger battle space. The result of an increased doctrinal battle space requirement is that the Army is facing greater needs for training land. Technological advances, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicles and Battle Command Systems create the capability to detect targets and conduct operations over greater distances. The Army must exploit these technological advantages by training Soldiers, leaders and units to exercise their equipment to the fullest capabilities and over the distance in a unified and decisive manner.

Stationing changes directed by BRAC 05 will concentrate Army units and service schools at key installations in the United States. Recent changes in the Army’s global posture and readiness cycles have increased the pressure on Army land assets. The Global Defense Posture Realignment is moving units from overseas locations to the continental United States. This movement adds to the need for training land because there are no new Army installations being created in the United States. In addition, the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) Model requires units to train to a higher level at home station because Army units must meet readiness gates at a faster pace than ever before. ARFORGEN-based training places increased emphasis on home station collective training. These collective training events simulate actual combat conditions and increase demands for installation training lands.

While the Army’s requirement for training land grows, the capacity of and accessibility to Army lands is decreasing. There are significant challenges that must be actively addressed to sustain training on current Army lands. The Army is competing with its neighbors for access to land, airspace and frequency spectrum. Urbanization and urban sprawl are encroaching on military lands and creating “islands of biodiversity” on Army installations. Urbanization concentrates endangered species and their habitat on areas traditionally used for military training. Increases in the concentration of endangered species at Army installations causes increased environmental restrictions. Environmental restrictions tend to translate into reduced accessibility to training land.
How is the Army addressing their need for more training land?
In 2003 the Department of the Army G-3 approved the Range and Training Land Strategy (RTLS) as a component of the Sustainable Range Program . The purpose of the RTLS is to address the increasing land deficit facing the Army. The RTLS serves as the mechanism to prioritize Army training land investment and helps to optimize the use of all Army range and training land assets. The RTLS provides a long-range plan for the Army to provide the best range infrastructure and training land to units.

The deliberate phases of the RTLS provide the framework for the Army to select the most appropriate course of action to address training land shortfalls at specific Army installations. The options that the Army can pursue include: focused management to maximize existing land holdings, buffering through partnerships, utilization of other Federal lands where possible and land acquisition.
What is the process the Army has to go through to acquire the land?
All major land acquisitions require Department of Defense (DoD) approval. The first step in this lengthy process is an identification of training land needs, followed by an analysis of possible alternatives to meet these needs. Next, the Army installation develops a concept with the assistance of an integrated team of experts (training, environment, real estate and legal) that take into account all of their identified training needs and analysis. This concept then moves through a rigorous approval process that is finalized by DoD. Once DoD grants concept approval, the installation can move into the planning phase. The entire planning phase is conducted in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and involves coordination with the public. Through this public planning process, the Army and all stakeholders will work together to devise an appropriate land acquisition plan that will help the Army installation meet their training needs, while recognizing and addressing community concerns.>
How is Land Acquisition different from the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program?
The Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB) creates land conservation partnerships between the Army and outside organizations to protect land from development that is incompatible with the military mission.

Fort Benning consists of 182,000 contiguous acres in Georgia and Alabama, and is an integral part of the Columbus, Ga., metropolitan area. Fort Benning is a self-sufficient military community providing support to more than 100,000 military, family members, reserve component Soldiers, retirees, and civilian employees on a daily basis. The Installation is the training area for the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, Noncommissioned Officer Academy, and Officer Candidate School. Fort Benning also provides training facilities for several U.S. Army Forces Command units.

Incompatible development along the borders of Fort Benning presents a significant challenge to both the military mission and the unique habitat that exists in and around the installation. Lands near Fort Benning provide critical habitat for sustaining the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, the gopher tortoise, and several rare plant species including the relict trillium. As part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) requirements, Fort Benning’s population and training needs will increase with the arrival of the U.S. Army Armor School. Fort Benning must protect its mission capability by maintaining full use of the installation lands for training activities and supporting infrastructure.

Through a combination of conservation easements and conservation-focused land acquisitions, the ACUB program at Fort Benning targets approximately 40,000 acres of land around the installation. This buffer assists in channeling land development away from critical portions of the installation’s boundary, while creating the opportunity for on-post training expansion as well as protection of critical habitat and watersheds off-post.

The Nature Conservancy, Georgia Chapter is Fort Benning’s primary ACUB partner. The mission of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. With the assistance of Fort Benning and the ACUB program, TNC’s Georgia Chapter is working with private landowners adjacent to the installation to sustain rural and conservation-friendly land uses.

National Environmental Policy Act

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the nation's basic environmental law that applies to almost all actions taken by -- or approved by -- federal agencies.  NEPA requires that before federal agencies take a major action, they must disclose the environmental impacts of their proposed action and evaluate alternatives that may have fewer environmental costs. NEPA requirements apply to all agencies of the federal government including the Department of Defense.


The NEPA process consists of an evaluation of the potential environmental effects of a proposed federal action and its alternatives.  There are three levels of analysis depending on whether or not the proposed action could significantly affect the environment.  These three levels include: categorical exclusion determination; preparation of an environmental assessment/finding of no significant impact (EA/FONSI); and preparation of an environmental impact statement/record of decision (EIS/ROD).


An EIS is a more detailed evaluation of the proposed action and alternatives.  The public, federal and state agencies and stakeholders may provide input into the preparation of an EIS and then comment on the draft EIS when it is complete.  After a final EIS is prepared and at the time of its decision, the U.S. Army will prepare a public record of its decision addressing how the findings of the EIS, including consideration of alternatives were incorporated into the its decision-making process.

The Public’s Role

The public has an important role in the NEPA process, particularly during scoping, in providing input on what issues should be addressed in an EIS and in commenting on the findings in the U.S. Army’s NEPA documents.  The public can participate in the NEPA process by attending NEPA-related meetings and by submitting comments to Fort Benning.  Public meetings and comment periods provide opportunities for the public to express concerns, ask questions, recommend alternate solutions or provide other input. The Army must take into consideration all comments received during the comment period from the public and other parties on NEPA documents.

Real Estate

The Corps of Engineers will analyze land surrounding Fort Benning using the following criteria to determine the potential for purchase:

Study Area Criteria:

  • Land meets Training Requirements. It has been determined by the Army that Fort Benning needs approximately 82,800 acres to satisfy our training land shortage.
  • Land Adjoins or is Close to Current Boundaries. Transporting equipment and Soldiers over a distance to train takes away time from already compressed training schedules and is an expensive endeavor. Training areas away from the current Fort Benning boundary could involve the expenses of building infrastructure to accommodate the transport of heavy equipment and to store and maintain the training equipment on-site.
  • Low Population Density. Land with low population density is preferable for the purchase of new training land to avoid current and future incompatible land uses as much as possible. Generally, rural or industrial land uses are more compatible with military training.
  • Large Land Holdings. Fort Benning is surrounded by large holdings of timber company-owned acreage. Purchasing large tracks of land from a few sellers would be much more cost effective than purchasing land from many sellers, as each real estate transaction has a cost.
  • Land meets Environmental Conditions. The EIS will study the environmental resources and conditions and compare potential impacts of land acquisition and military training for each study area. The Environmental Condition of Property Report (ECOP or ECP) is prepared to meet real estate requirements and to detail the lands history focusing on prior hazardous substance used on the property. These studies will help the Army ensure that land considered for purchase will not have substantial environmental resources or concerns that could impede military training.

The Army has a non-negotiable contract with the American public to fight and win the nation’s wars and to defend its borders.  In order to carry out this responsibility in a complex operational environment, the Army must train as it fights.  This means we must teach our Soldiers the tactics, techniques and procedures they will need on any battlefield. To do that we must ensure our Soldiers practice these skills in an environment that replicates in real-time and real-distance, the challenges of combat.  Realistic training leads to survivability on the battlefield.

Army Transformation:  How and Why?

 The Army is pursuing the most comprehensive transformation of its forces since the early years of World War II, but the Soldier remains the centerpiece of our combat systems and formations.  The Army Campaign Plan provides direction for detailed planning, preparation and execution of the full range of tasks necessary to provide relevant and ready land power to the Nation while maintaining the quality of the all-volunteer force.

The future direction of the Army is to increase it capabilities for a wide range of missions whether the Army is at war, keeping the peace, deterring aggression, or providing humanitarian assistance around the globe.  To prepare for these missions the Army is redesigning the organization by transforming to smaller, brigade-based units that are standardized and can be tailored to meet operational demands.

The Global War on Terrorism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the need for weapon systems with greater capability, longer range and units that can be rapidly deployed and maneuver over great distances to achieve their objectives. Therefore, the Army is transforming and restructuring the force to execute joint and expeditionary campaigns that protect our freedoms, deter our adversaries, and if required, defeat our enemies.



Land Expansion Phone Line: 706-545-8830

Land Expansion Email: land.benning@us.army.mil