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Fort Polk - Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC)

Fort Polk is unique in all the Army because it is the only Combat Training Center (CTC) that also has the mission to train and deploy combat and combat support units. From its start as a base for the Louisiana Maneuvers in the 1940s, to a basic training post during Vietnam, to the home of the 5th Mech Division in the 1980s, and its current dual missions as the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) and home of the 2nd ACR and Warrior Brigade, Fort Polk has excuted all of the Army's mission.

Each fiscal year, JRTC conducts eight rotations and two Mission Readiness Exercises (MREs). A single rotation consists of 16 days. This time is divided roughly as follows: Days 1-4 are spent in the Intermediate Staging Base (ISB) and days 5-16 are spent performing the exercise itself ("in the box"). A typical training scenario at JRTC includes a brigade-sized joint task force deploying to the fictional island of Aragon to support the friendly nation of Cortina. In addition to the approximately 3,500 troops supporting the brigade, there are also approximately 1,500 troops supporting echelons above division (EAD) units during a normal rotation. These EAD units usually include a combat hospital as well as a corps support group. The permissive or forced entry of coalition forces into Cortina is intended to improve stability in the region by quelling an ongoing insurgency in Cortina. A non-MRE rotation generally has three operational phases. First is an insertion and counter-insurgency operation; second is a defense (in response to an Atlantican attack); and third is an attack into a state-of-the-art Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) complex.

The Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) complex at Fort Polk, LA is 8km x 7km box within the Joint Readiness Training Center's (JRTC) Maneuver Area consisting of a series of villages and tactical objective sites. The centerpiece is a town called Shughart-Gordon. Shughart-Gordon is a twenty-nine (29) building enclave replicating a third world town. In addition there is an eight (8) building airfield named Self Airfield, and a five (5) building mock military installation named Word Military Compound.

The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process of 1991 moved the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) from Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, to Fort Polk, Louisiana. The Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) is the light infantry equivalent of the Army's National Training Center, located at Fort Irwin, CA. Located at Fort Polk, LA, JRTC hosts light infantry and special operations forces from all components for rotations stretching throughout the year. The ARNG receives one brigade rotation each year. The rotations are allocated to the seven light infantry enhanced Separate Brigades (eSBs). As with the other eSBs, the Adjutant General determines if the unit will attend. The 41st eSB (OR) is scheduled to attend in FY98 and the 29th eSB (HI) attended in FY99. The ARNG receives and allocates two LTP rotations annually. These rotations are allocated to the eSBs based on units' relative calendar proximity to scheduled JRTC rotations. As with the NTC, training opportunities exist for Combat Arms, Combat Support and Combat Service Support units to augment BLUFOR and OPFOR units and to provide installation support.

The former "England Air Force Base" is used as the Intermediate Staging Base (ISB) for the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk.

Consolidation of military forces within U.S. borders have led to many changes at Fort Polk. The stationing of new units with rapid deployment missions has made Fort Polk a platform from which soldiers have recently deployed to Haiti, Southwest Asia, Surname, Panama and Bosnia to name a few. Units currently stationed at Fort Polk include the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, affiliated with the XVIII Airborne Corps, Warrior Brigade (Headquarters Command) contains a number of support units with early deploying wartime missions, Medical, Dental and Military Police Commands complete Fort Polk's structure.

Being a small installation with about 8,000 soldiers, Fort Polk offers a surprisingly diverse array of facilities and opportunities for soldiers and their families. Educational opportunities, arts and crafts, sports, hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation and other facilities are readily available.

Fort Polk is located in west-central Louisiana, about 45 miles from Alexandria, 70 miles from Lake Charles, 120 miles from Shreveport, 150 miles from Baton Rouge, 250 from New Orleans, and 180 from Houston. Closer to our front gate are the nearby towns of Leesville, La, located in Vernon Parish, and DeRidder, La, located in Beauregard Parish. (Louisiana has PARISHES not COUNTIES as other states do).

The main post consists of approximately 100,000 acres. Fort Polk is divided into two cantonment areas known as North Fort Polk and South Fort Polk. Approximately 98,000 acres of the main post is within the Kisatchie National Forest and is used by Fort Polk under an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. In addition, the headwaters and bodies of several streams are located within the installation.

The Joint Readiness Training Center provides advance level joint training for the Army (Active and Reserve Component), Air Force and Navy contingency forces in deployment and tactical operations under realistic conditions of low to mid intensity combat.

Construction of Camp Polk began January 28, 1941 on the broad, rolling plains that at the time contained little but cut-over pine forests, a few dilapidated shacks and some range-wire fencing. The camp's first commander, Colonel Otto Wagner, arrived at the post with a few soldiers in March 1941. Thousands of wooden barracks sprang up virtually overnight to support an Army preparing to battle Axis forces on the North African, European and Pacific fronts. Camp Polk - named for Confederate Lieutenant General and Episcopal Bishop Leonides Polk - was officially completed August 1, 1941.

From the end of World War II until the early 1960s, the post suffered a series of traumatic closings and reopenings. During much of this time, it was open only in the summers to support reserve component training. The United States continued to look at Camp Polk whenever crisis arose, though, and active Army units were stationed here temporarily during the Korean War and the Berlin Crisis.

Fort Polk's reputation began in 1962 with its conversion to an infantry training center. As soldiers prepared for combat in Southeast Asia, commanders made the most of Fort Polk's 198,000 acres - especially a small portion filled with dense, jungle-like vegetation. For the next 12 years, more soldiers were shipped out to Vietnam from Fort Polk than from any other American training base. In 1974, as hostilities in Southeast Asia drew to a close, Fort Polk's continued role in U.S. defense was signalled by its selection as the home of the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized). About the same time, Congress passed the largest military construction bill ever allocated to a single installation.

Soldiers of the World War II and Vietnam eras would scarcely recognize the new Fort Polk. Most of the old wooden buildings have been replaced with modern barracks, motor pools, unit administrative offices, and service facilities. More than 4,000 married soldiers reside with their families in recently constructed on-post housing units as well. After more than half a century of service, U.S. leaders continue to place their confidence in Fort Polk. The 1990s bring new challenges as the United States cuts its military strength in response to the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) complex at Fort Polk, LA is 8km x 7km box within the Joint Readiness Training Center's (JRTC) Maneuver Area consisting of a series of villages and tactical objective sites. The centerpiece is a town called Shughart-Gordon. Shughart-Gordon is a twenty-nine (29) building enclave replicating a third world town. In addition there is an eight (8) building airfield named Self Airfield, and a five (5) building mock military installation named Word Military Compound.

Self Airfield is a flight landing strip (FLS) just east of North Fort Polk. It lies within the Polk AAF Class D airspace, the airspace 600 ft MSL and below will be considered Class G airspace and is controlled by Warrior Control. Aircraft will remain East of K Avenue that parallels Self AAF (first road West of the FLS) and North of Artillery road. All aircraft will depart to the North or East. If winds require a South departure, aircraft must turn East before crossing Artillery road. Aircraft enroute to PAAF will contact Polk TWR prior to entering the airspace. Use extreme caution when arriving or departing Self FLS, communication with ATC is not possible on the ground! When Self FLS ROZs are not active, Aircraft in-bound will call Warrior Control 2 KM out prior to landing. Departing aircraft will make calls in the blind to Warrior Control prior to take off and will establish comminations when clear of obstacles. During JRTC rotations, when Self-Airfield is active for UAV operations or airland operations (fixed wing), a ROZ will be established.

In July 1993, the Joint Readiness Training Center, one of the Defense Department's premier training facilities, relocated to Fort Polk from Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. The 1st of the 509th Infantry Regiment serves as the opposing force to the combat and special operations units rotating through training exercises here. The 2nd Armored Division - formerly the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) - left Louisiana after a 20 year residency. The division began its relocation to Fort Hood, Texas, in 1992 and completed the move in December l993. More than a dozen other units have been reassigned here from Europe and other U.S. locations as the nation enhances and realigns its contingency force within its own borders.

On November 17, 2001, MG Charles H. Swannack, Jr., Commander, Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) and Fort Polk, made a decision to conduct Rotation 02-02, a special training exercise in late November and December 2001. The purpose of Rotation 02-02 is to provide a force-on-force Combat Training Center (CTC) experience for the 1st Battalion, 33rd Armored Regiment (1-33 AR), 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (1-25 ID) (light). This is necessary so that each Battalion Commander can participate in a realistic, Brigade sized force-on-force maneuver exercise. JRTC is one of three maneuver CTCs in the world and is the only place where an Army light infantry brigade can train for war on a realistic battlefield with all its personnel and equipment along with other supporting military services. Rotation 02-02 will include an armored battalion and a light infantry battalion operating in the field and a light infantry battalion operating in simulation. Relative to previous JRTC exercises, Rotation 02-02 will involve increased numbers of tracked and wheeled vehicles. Rotation 02-02 will also be the first JRTC combat exercise to occur in the month of December. Rotation 02-02 will use Army-owned lands at Fort Polk and Peason Ridge and US Forest Service Intensive Use Area lands in the Vernon Unit of the Kisatchie National Forest. The Limited Use Area of the Forest will not be used.

In October 1999, the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army articulated a vision to posture the Army to meet the demands of the 21st century. Transformation addresses the need for change based on emerging security challenges of the 21st century. Chief among these challenges is the need to be able to respond more rapidly to different types of operations requiring military action. The Army proposes to implement force transformation and mission capability enhancements at Fort Polk with respect to facilities construction. The purpose of the proposed action is to bring the Interim Force to operational capability.

As of early 2002 proposed construction activities within the Fort Polk cantonment areas include repair of the Fort Polk Army airfield and taxiway and construction of the following: a new 77,500 square foot Mission Training Support Facility, an aircraft maintenance hangar at the Fort Polk airfield, a deployment storage facility, an arms storage facility, a battalion headquarters and materials maintenance center, a company headquarters facility, a consolidated rigging facility, and a pre-positioned equipment and maintenance complex. Proposed construction activities in the Fort Polk maneuver areas and ranges include: digitization of the existing Multi-Purpose range Complex, construction of a sniper range at an existing small arms range and a pallet processing facility, and expansion of the existing alert holding area and the ammunition supply point.


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