The new commander of the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill has big plans.
Maj. Gen. Winston “Phil” Brooks was officially welcomed at Fort Sill’s Old Post Quadrangle on Thursday morning with a ceremony and fire salute. Brooks brings a lot of experience to the table, with deployments to Iraq and several countries in Eastern Europe, among others.
“I’m very humbled and honored for the opportunity to lead the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, and I’m ecstatic to come back to team Lawton,” Brooks said, referring to his time as commander of the Field Artillery School in June 2020. His most recent assignment led him to Gloucester in the United Kingdom as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.
His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit Medal with 3 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters.
In his speech, Brooks outlined his five priorities as commander to build on Fort Sill’s importance within the U.S. Army. Fire force readiness — “to ensure we are always the world’s premier fire force, ready to fight and win” — and recruitment efforts are part of his priority list, as well as achieving force modernization, developing high-performing fire’s leaders and sustaining relationships with Lawton and the surrounding community.
In his speech, Lt. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr., commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, described Brooks as the right man for the job.
“I received many notes, calls and letters about Phil Brooks,” Beagle Jr. said. “Many have told me what a great leader he is, described his work ethics, described him as model leader.”
However, about three minutes into his speech, Beagle Jr. decided to “address the elephant in the room.”
“Sometimes we know that what we want to do and what we actually do are two completely different things,” Beagle Jr. said, referring to former Fort Sill commander Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper. Kamper was suspended from duty in February and officially relieved of his duties in June after allegations of violating hunting rules on post, “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command,” according to a statement by Army Spokesperson Cynthia O. Smith.
“We all know the rule: Bad things happen to good people and bad things happen to good organizations,” Beagle Jr. said. “I’ve known Kamper for a long time, he’s someone I’ve served in combat with. He brought a lot of change and made a big impact. And despite the recent past, Fort Sill continues to move forward.”
Moving forward is now the doctrine at Fort Sill, so much that journalists attending the ceremony were prohibited from asking the new commander any questions about the former commander. Instead, emphasis was placed on the future of Fort Sill as a hallmark of the Army’s firepower.
“Your dedicated efforts towards modernization, delivering the Army of 2030 and designing the Army of 2040, is driving the fire force to new heights,” Brooks addressed his soldiers during his speech. “You can’t turn on the television today or go on the internet without seeing the impact of American air defense and field artillery firepower. You are sought after by every combatant commander because of the professionalism you bring to the fight.”
Beagle Jr. agreed, saying Fort Sill was “known for high standards, innovation and creativity.”
Brooks’ deployments have left him with important experiences, skills and perspectives in light of the challenges and crises across the globe. Brooks highlighted the “tremendous impact” his soldiers had on recent events around the world.
“While current events maintain our attention in Europe, we also recognize the challenges and opportunities the Pacific region presents,” he said. “Our reinforcement of fire assets on the Korean peninsula and other locations reassures our allies and partners and keeps our adversaries at bay.”
Brooks is taking over for interim commander Brig. Gen. Shane Morgan. In his speech, Beagle Jr. thanked Morgan for “stepping up and contributing even more.”
“You showed your true leadership abilities by stepping in to lead an organization and team that experienced some unexpected turbulence,” Beagle Jr. said.