Chaplain Service Institute on target to relocate to Fort Jackson

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Melissa Copeland
  • Air University Public Affairs
The Ira C. Eaker College for Professional Development's Chaplain Service Institute here has been bustling with activity since May 2008 preparing to relocate to a new town.

The institute is scheduled to relocate to Fort Jackson, S.C., by fiscal 2010 to join the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, the Naval Chaplain School, to include the Marines, and be known as the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center.

Although collectively known as the AFCC, "each service will retain its own school's name in order to differentiate among the specific services," said Col. James Galloway, Eaker College commander.

The move came under a base realignment and closure initiative enacted in 2005, mandating all Department of Defense chaplaincy schools be collocated at Fort Jackson.

The CSI is home to the Chaplain Assistant Apprentice course for enlisted members, the Chaplain Candidate course for the Air Force Reserve Command, Basic and Intermediate Chaplain Courses and courses for wing chaplains.

Approximately 500 chaplains and chaplain assistants graduate from the institute annually.

The move is scheduled to begin this year with the last instructional course being taught at Maxwell in October 2009. Classes resume at Fort Jackson beginning in December 2009.

Although no longer on Maxwell, Eaker College will remain the parent organization and continue to provide educational and administrative oversight for the institute, Colonel Galloway said.

With Fort Jackson as the largest Initial Entry Training Center for approximately 50,000 Army enlistees, facilities are being built specifically for the chaplain schools as to ensure zero training interruptions.

"The facilities are similar to what we have here at Maxwell with the addition of four inter-service classrooms and a 300-seat auditorium to be shared among the three services," said Chaplain (Col.) Steven Keith, Chaplain Service Institute commandant.

The unique training mission of Fort Jackson will also provide the chaplains opportunities to "practice what they preach."

While at Maxwell, all chaplains and chaplain assistants had to be sent to Silver Flag at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for practical deployment exercises where there was no guarantee other courses would be there for interaction purposes, Colonel Galloway said.

But Fort Jackson will provide access for the chaplains to utilize the Warrior Training Area, an area always in use by Army basic trainees.

"The Army has roughly 300 soldiers in the WTA conducting Advanced Individual Training nearly all the time," Colonel Galloway said. "This gives our new chaplains and chaplain assistants real people with which to interact. It is a great experience for our Airmen and we began using this area over a year ago."

Being collocated with the other services will also provide valuable training opportunities for the Air Force Chaplain Corps.

"It will allow us the opportunity to combine our teaching efforts in some areas of study," said Chaplain Keith. "Currently we have identified 44 hours of shared inter-service instruction for our basic chaplain courses. We anticipate that number will grow once the move is completed. Additionally, the collocation will allow us to better understand one another's cultures, differences and strengths."

With the distance between Fort Jackson and Shaw Air Force Base, the nearest Air Force installation at nearly 45 minutes drive, the benefits look to outweigh the cost.

"The benefit will be the interaction among the services in a similar career field," Chaplain Keith said. "Already the Army, Navy and Air Force school commandants and their transition teams have forged positive working relationships and started down the road of inter-service teamwork and cooperation. There is a lot of excitement at all levels in the Chaplain Corps of all services to see this go through successfully."