By By Lt. Col. Matt Hackathorn, U.S. Army Cadet CommandMay 16, 2013
FORT KNOX, Ky. (May 16, 2013) -- Who would have thought Base Realignment and Closure would create a tremendous training and education opportunity for U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox?
That's the case for the newly renovated museum at Fort Knox, Ky., now referred to as the Gen. George Patton Museum of Leadership, which has its grand opening June 14 for the general public.
Those familiar with Fort Knox remember the Patton Museum as a tribute to the armor branch and the flamboyant World War II general, but changes caused by BRAC 2005 affected the museum in a major way. When the Armor School departed Fort Knox for Fort Benning, Ga., in the summer of 2011, approximately 80 percent of the museum's contents left with it.
A major gutting forced Training and Doctrine Command to come up with a new plan for the museum, which is one of the busiest in the Army's system. The facility at Fort Knox has historically enjoyed about 100,000 visitors annually.
"In the wake of BRAC 2005, the TRADOC commander made a decision to establish a new museum of leadership that needed to be governed by U.S. Army Cadet Command," said Chris Kolakowski, the museum's director. "The focus of the museum comes straight out of Army Field Manual 6-22, 'Army Leadership,' and specifically the Leadership Requirements Model."
Kolakowski came to Fort Knox in October 2009 with a mission of taking whatever the Armor School left behind and remaking a state-of-the-art museum focused on using interactive technology to train military history and leadership development. Under the guidance and direction of Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Kolakowski and his staff transformed the 45,000-square-foot facility into an exciting and relevant training and education venue for Soldiers, Cadets and the general public.
"The reason we're here is to help train Cadets," said Kolakowski, who works closely with the command's curriculum development staff. "This museum will support the Leader's Training Course and Pre-Command Course with interactive galleries and virtual staff rides. We can support detailed leader development forums on site."
Immersion into historic battles offers a tremendous training aid. As groups of students participate in the interactive scenarios, facilitators can stop at key moments and ask the question, "What are you going to do now, lieutenant?" Each scenario can take a different path depending on how the group leader reacts.
"Basically, we're using history to reinforce lessons of leadership," Kolakowski said. "We're able to take abstract concepts and help create concrete discussions."
Also included in the new museum are galleries dedicated to the history of Army ROTC, strategic leadership and the six characteristics of leaders who demonstrate character, presence and intellectual capacity by leading, developing and achieving results.
The museum also features a special exhibit of a functional fire truck used Sept. 11, 2001, by telling a compelling story of leader response during an extreme crisis in American history. Kolakowski said the museum inherited the fire truck from Fort Belvoir's Center of Military History, also due to a BRAC move, saving the historic piece from being sold or scrapped.
For more information about the new Gen. George Patton Museum of Leadership or to schedule a visit, call (502) 624-4824.