Fort Polk is a military installation of the US Army located in Vernon Parish. It was named after the Right Reverend Leonidas Polk, who was the first Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana. He is also a distinguished Confederate general during the American Civil War. The post consists of 198,000 acres of land, with 100,000 acres now owned by the Department of the Army and over 98,000 acres owned by the US Forest Service. Fort Polk also serves as the only Combat Training Center that deploys and trains combat units.
Fort Polk a brief history
In 1941, Fort Polk was established and named after Right Reverend Leonidas Polk. Thousands of soldiers learned the basics of combat in Fort Polk during the World War II Louisiana Maneuvers. Since then, the post was opened for the Korean War and closed until the US Army finds good use of it. During the Berlin Crisis in 1941, Fort Polk was reactivated on a permanent basis and it was turned into an infantry training center in 1962. It was also selected to conduct advanced combat training and prepare soldiers for the upcoming Vietnam War.
In 1974, the 5th Infantry Division became Fort Polk’s major tenant. This marked the transformation of the post into one of the most modern military installations of the US Army. In 1993, the 5th Infantry Division also moved to Fort Hood, Texas. On March 12, 1993, Fort Pork finally became the home of the Joint Readiness Training Center, which has just relocated from Arkansas. It also became the home to Warrior Brigade, which contained several combat support units. Dental, medical, and military police commands were also sent to support the installation.
The year 2005 marked the season of change for the entire Fort Polk community. The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which considered Fort Polk home since 1990, rolled up its flag for movement to Fort Lewis wherein it will turn into the US Army’s newest Stryker brigades. The 10 Division, also known as the 4th Brigade, also became the Army’s modular brigade when it was officially established in January 2005 at Fort Polk. The Army continues to undergo a restructuring from a division-based to a brigade-based combat force, consisting of self-sufficient modules that are expected to enhance strategic responsiveness.
Brigade combat teams refer to self-sufficient, standardized, and stand-alone tactical units consisting of 3,500 to 4,500 soldiers. It organized the way the US Army fought during times of war. Modular brigades are expected to provide fires, logistics, aviation, and other support services to the Brigade combat teams in order to improve joint interagency and produce greater operational anatomy. Once the Army Modular Force is created, Fort Polk can start offering more training time, great work schedules, and a continuous supply of manpower to the Civil Authorities as well as the Combatant Commanders.
In recent times, soldiers of Fort Polk were also called to serve in different parts of the globe. They participated in the Operation Just Cause in Panama as well as the Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf. Today, Fort Polk supports the all-out war against terrorism by providing the Army’s special operations forces and light infantry brigade with contingency training. It also deploys reserve component forces to support the military operations in Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom. To accomplish its goals as a training center, Fort Polk and Joint Readiness Training Center are both experiencing a tremendous transformation.
Fort Polk vision and mission
As with any other US Army installation, Fort Polk aims to train individual soldiers and hone the potential of competent leaders who can participate in war and protect the nation against security threats. Along with the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk also trains and prepares the Brigade Combat Teams for war. It is also dedicated to providing quality installation management and support services that can provide army civilians, soldiers, retirees, and their families with a self-sustaining and thriving community. Fort Polk sees to it that all members of the US Army can get the quality of life they deserve.
Fort Polk also assigns combat units in times of war. It prepares, deploys, sustains, and re-deploys trained and mentally prepared soldiers who are willing to defend the dignity of their motherland. With an improved Power Projection Platform, Fort Polk expects to mobilize, validate, and deploy active members of the Army Reserve Force as well as the National Guard. It also allowed Fort Polk to inspire thousands of men who wish to participate in shaping the history of their nation. In line with these goals, the newly renovated Soldiers Readiness Processing Center continues to set the bar for emerging military installations.
Interesting facts and figures
Fort Polk encompasses approximately 198,555 acres of land. The army owns 100,430 acres of this land and the US Forest Army owns 18,125 acres of its total land area. Over 40,500 acres of land are reserved for intensive use while the remaining 56,000 acres are intended for limited and special use. The post continues to show a promising economic climate, with over $1,700,000,000 accumulated each year. $407,000,000 accounts for military pay, 361,000,000 accounts for civilian retiree pay, and 113,000,000 for civilian pay. A huge chunk of the annual income also comes from the Residential Community Initiative Housing.
The total population in Fort Polk is approximately 9,700. It features 8,382 military housing units, with 4,800 single soldier quarters, 110 senior bachelor quarters, and 3,460 family housing units. While the military members residing off post is over 6,000, those residing off post are only 3,200. Over 18,700 military family members and 5,758 civilian employees are also residing off and on post. As the community continues to experience growth, Fort Polk also experienced the biggest construction booms in the history of the Army. It has over $300 million allocated for renovation projects and new construction in order to support its transformation for the coming years.
The US Army also spent a considerable amount of time and money in locating and identifying thousands of archaeological sites in Fort Polk. The land where Fort Polk sits in has become a major region of cultural resources that include historic houses, archaeological sites, and other sites that are of great historical value.