FORT POLK, La. — Brig. Gen. David W. Gardner assumed command of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk during a change of command ceremony held at 9 a.m., July 11 on the installation’s Warrior Field.
Gardner replaced Brig. Gen. David S. Doyle, who is headed to U.S. Army Central Command in Tampa, Florida, where he will serve as CENTCOM Chief of Staff.
Lt. Gen. Paul T. Calvert, deputy commanding general, U.S. Forces Command, hosted the event held under clear skies and typical Louisiana summer temperatures. He welcomed the distinguished guests and others in attendance, and noted how it honored both the Doyle and Gardner Families.
In speaking to Doyle, Calvert quoted the 1941 edition of FM 100-5: “Command is the authority which an individual in the military service lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of rank or assignment. Command and leadership are inseparable. Whether the force is large or small, whether the functions of command are complex or simple, the commander must be the controlling head; his must be the master mind, and from him must flow the energy and impulse which are to animate all under him.”
“For the past 22 months, Dave Doyle has animated all under him, and around him, through clear understanding of his roles, responsibilities and authorities that come with being the commander of both the JRTC and Fort Polk,” Calvert said.
His commandership has been a driver of positive change and a catalyst for mission success.”
Calvert said both Doyle and his spouse, Renee, would be missed as they headed to Florida.
“We wish you safe travels and look forward to your return to the FORSCOM team in the future.”
Calvert then directed his comments to Gardner, noting the assignment is a homecoming of sort for the Gardner Family.
“Dave, I know you are the right commander and leader to build upon the work that has been laid by Dave Doyle,” he said. “General (Andrew) Poppas (FORSCOM commander) and I have complete trust, faith and confidence in your abilities, and we look forward to the difference you and Eve-Lynn will undoubtedly make during your time here.”
Next to the podium was Doyle, who thanked the JRTC and Fort Polk team for the support they provided him during the past 22 months.
“Serving as your commanding general has been an honor and a privilege,” he said.
“We are winning — and continue to win —the fight for talent, because of you. Your ongoing team-oriented efforts make JRTC and Fort Polk a great place to train, to live and to build readiness.”
Doyle said the Army exists for one purpose: To fight and win the nation’s wars.
“You contribute directly to that mission,” he said. “This installation has been dedicated to that noble calling since 1941 when Camp Polk was first established.”
In closing, Doyle quoted the late Gen. Colin Powell: “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
“Thank you all: For your sweat, determination and hard work to make JRTC and Fort Polk the Home of Heroes,” he said.
When it was Gardner’s turn to address those gathered, he thanked Doyle for his leadership, which continued to make JRTC and Fort Polk a jewel in the Army’s crown.
“What more can I say other than a simple and heartfelt, ‘Well done,’” he said.
As a former commander of Operations Group, Gardner said he had the opportunity to speak to leaders and Soldiers who trained “in the box” at the JRTC.
“Their successes in combat and contingency around the world are directly related to the training and preparation they have received here,” Gardner said.
He added the Fort Polk garrison’s stellar reputation for leading so many agencies dedicated to this installation is well earned and demonstrated by the plethora of quality of life ribbon cuttings over the past 12 months.
“I look forward to working with the great Soldiers and civilians of Fort Polk that I have admired for so many years,” he said.
Gardner said he is sure there is more greatness ahead for Fort Polk.
“I am committed to strengthening the positive partnerships that exist between our Soldiers, civilians, community and retires,” he said. “JRTC and Fort Polk is a sum of all of its parts, and the stronger our bonds, the stronger and more effective we will be as a team.”
Gardner, a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, comes to Fort Polk from an assignment as Commander, U.S. Army Operational Test Command, Fort Hood, Texas, a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command. Prior to that, he was Commander, JRTC Operations Group.
About the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk:
JRTC and Fort Polk train Brigade Combat Teams and Security Force Assistance Brigades to conduct large-scale operations on a decisive action battlefield against a near-peer threat with multi-domain capabilities. Fort Polk enables FORSCOM units to increase readiness and support globally-deployable missions.
As one of four quality of life installations in the Army, JRTC and Fort Polk pursues multiple initiatives, including: Education, housing, health care, child care, spouse employment and morale, welfare and recreation — enhancing the Soldier and Family quality of life at Fort Polk to equal the world-class readiness and training achieved by JRTC.