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US Navy pulls jobs from Columbia’s Fort Jackson

Fort Jackson: The nation’s largest basic training base

Fort Jackson, which trains nearly 50,000 recruits a year, is the nation's largest basic training base.
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Fort Jackson, which trains nearly 50,000 recruits a year, is the nation's largest basic training base.

Fort Jackson is losing the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center, along with its 20 jobs and 200 annual students.

The return of the school to its original site at Naval Station Newport, R.I., is the second departure from the joint Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center. The Air Force pulled it chaplains school from Fort Jackson in February of 2017.

“We’re returning to our Navy roots,” Cmdr. Nathan Solomon, the Navy chaplain school’s executive officer, told The State. The chaplains “will have a deeper indoctrination in the Navy culture from the very beginning.“

The chaplains will be moved in stages, culminating on Dec. 13, Solomon said.

The Air Force and Navy schools moved to Fort Jackson in 2010 following a Base Realignment and Closure decision in 2005 to train all military chaplains at one location.

The Navy school, begun in Newport in 1951, is responsible for chaplains’ education and professional development.

Even after 2010, Navy chaplains still took their induction training at the Officer Development School in Rhode Island, then were shipped to South Carolina for their professional Navy chaplaincy training, Solomon said.

The Air Force school returned to its original roots at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.

“It’s unfortunate to see them go,” said Dan Beatty, chairman of the military outreach committee for the Columbia Chamber. “It’s not a major surprise. They were great partners. But you can’t blame them for trying to get back to their headquarters.”

Beatty noted the Army chaplains school, which remains at Fort Jackson, is likely as big as the Air Force and Navy schools combined.

Fort Jackson trains more than soldiers. It's Camp McCrady also is home to Task Force Marshall which trains thousands of Navy SPs (Shore Patrol) and others to do land duty keeping the peace as police officers and other support troops in Afghanistan

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