By Jon Micheal Connor, ASC Public AffairsJune 1, 2016
FORT POLK, La. -- Located in south central Louisiana is one of the Army's premier training centers at Fort Polk.
The Joint Readiness Training Center is one of three combat training centers in the Army that trains infantry brigade task forces and their subordinate elements. And, the only one that trains and deploys combat units.
Logistics Readiness Center-Polk carries out the base operations logistics support necessary to keep this installation of 200,000-plus acres running. Like the extremes of a desert, the weather can be brutal there too, with its muggy subtropical climate.
This post was established in 1941 to teach combat basics during World War II. It also provided Vietnam-oriented advanced training during that war.
In 1993, Fort Polk became home to JRTC, relocated from Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Today it is home to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. This team was designed to create a highly mobile, lethal and flexible combat unit to support the rapid build-up of combat power wherever needed.
Fort Polk has been a resource for contingency training in all major operations in the last 25 years.
Besides supporting the senior mission commander and garrison commander, LRC-Polk's big mission is providing transportation for brigade-size combat rotational training units.
"They come in, and we assist them with the download and the upload. We load the actual rail cars, come up with the load plan for the rail cars; we check their military shipping labels, we do all billing," explained Brian Durbin, installation transportation officer, LRC-Polk.
"When they come in they go from our area to get MILES installed and then they move out into the training areas," Durbin said.
MILES is the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System used for training purposes using laser technology to detect when military personnel are hit to add realism and accountability when training.
LRC-Polk is one of the 70-plus LRCs worldwide that fall under the U.S. Army Sustainment Command whose higher headquarters is the U.S. Army Materiel Command. This LRC reports directly to the 406th Army Field Support Brigade, headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
LRC-Polk supports nearly 10,000 active-duty Soldiers and 2,500 buildings encompassing 16-million square feet.
It supports the 3rd BCT, and JRTC's Operations Group, which is charge of 10 rotational training exercises for Infantry BCTs annually.
Another mission of LRC-Polk is supplying ammunition.
Christopher Boyd, a quality assurance specialist, works in ammunition surveillance.
"We provide storage. We also issue to the rotational units, on-post units for training; also to the MPs, we carry their basic loads," Boyd said.
"They (the rotating units) generally use everything we have. What we carry is small arms to AT4s -- your shoulder-fired rockets."
And for those who are assigned to Fort Polk, Boyd said Soldiers generally need 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm rounds, with the military police using 9 mm.
LRC-Polk is also responsible for field and sustainment maintenance.
Brent Ross, maintenance chief, LRC-Polk, said there are a variety of vehicles issued and serviced to the rotating units.
"We issue everything from an unarmored Humvee to armored Humvee to LMTVs (Light Medium Tactical Vehicle), MTVs (Medium Tactical Vehicles) -- armored/unarmored; we issue MRAPS (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles), MATVs (MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles), and MaxxPros," he said.
Besides these units, local customers such as the observer controllers and the opposing forces require maintenance on their vehicles.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Thomas Lemieux, brigade maintenance officer, Operations Group, Joint Readiness Training Group, said he is able to carry out his mission thanks to LRC-Polk.
"What we're charged with and I'm charged with here at Operations Group Maintenance is making sure that the vehicles and equipment that the observer controllers, and the opposing forces, need to do their mission [are ready], that they have quantity needed for each rotation to successfully accomplish that mission," Lemieux said.
"Operations in whole, we service about 120 vehicles a month. We also do about 700 hours of road calls, quick fixes, and actual maintenance within the box, and then we also dispatch approximately 400 to 600 pieces of equipment, vehicles mainly, each rotation," he said. "And we do that through the LRC and the support that contractors give us to maintain that operational readiness to support the Brigade Combat Teams and their training requirement for their real-world deployments."
Helping to meet Soldiers' uniform needs is Luther Stepp, LRC-Polk's Central Issue Facility property book officer.
"Depending on deployment requirements, we could see anywhere between 120 to 600 Soldiers [daily]," said Stepp. "Last year we processed 21,000 transactions in support of Soldier-issued turn-in and DX (direct exchange).
Because of the emphasis on training at Fort Polk, eating in the field is the norm.
"Our job is to make sure they get well fed," said John McNutt, a quality assurance evaluator for LRC-Polk. "Most of the time when they come from training, and once they're finished, most of them have eaten MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) and heat a meal during the training, so when they finish training they are ready for a well-balanced meal."
Such was the case when one Soldier's unit was done with its rotational training.
"I like that the food tastes genuine. The eggs taste like eggs; the hash browns were well done; the wide variety of foods that we get -- the waffles, the hash browns -- there's no reason for any Soldier to leave hungry," said Sgt. 1st Class Micah Smith, senior medic, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
"Tonight we had Asian chicken or orange chicken with rice, green beans, salad. Everything was fresh, healthy and very good," Smith said.
Aside from the aforementioned, LRC-Polk's areas of responsibilities also include:
Consolidated Installation Property Book; Troop Issue Subsistence Activity; Supply Support Activity/Central Receiving Point; Self Service Supply Center; Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss; Equipment Classification; Personal Property Shipping Office; Official Passenger Travel; Transportation Motor Pool; Drivers Training & Testing Station; Material Movement Unit Movement/Passenger Processing Facility; Passenger Processing Facility (Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group A/DACG); and Rail Operations.