JRTC, Fort Polk hosts round table for area civic leaders
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fort Polk command, along with state and local leaders, met at the Fort Polk Warrior Center Aug. 17 to discuss a wide range of topics from the importance of caring for Soldiers and Families to an update on the naming commission timeline for Fort Polk. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL
JRTC, Fort Polk hosts round table for area civic leaders
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Sam Smith, Fort Polk garrison commander, (left) talks to Louisiana State Sen. Mike Reese at the Fort Polk round table held Aug. 17. (Photo Credit: Chuck Cannon) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT POLK, La. — Brig. Gen. David W. Gardner, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commander, hosted a luncheon Aug. 17 to introduce himself to area civic leaders and let them know their importance to the installation.

Gardner replaced outgoing commander Maj. Gen. David Doyle in a change of command ceremony July 11.

Gardner shared his priorities with the civic leaders, including the importance of caring for Soldiers and their Families, building readiness and success in the JRTC and Fort Polk campaign plans.

“We are in a unique situation at Fort Polk in that even though we are small, we have everything a much larger base has,” Gardner said. “But it’s not just about what we have; at Fort Polk you’re not just a name or a number. You’re part of the Fort Polk Family.”

He shared how Fort Polk units were aligned with area parishes to provide support. They included:

•3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division with Vernon and Sabine parishes

•Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital with Natchitoches Parish

•46th Engineer Battalion with Rapides Parish

•519th Military Police Battalion with Beauregard Parish

•32nd Hospital Center with Calcasieu Parish

Gardner also gave an update on the Naming Commission and provided a timeline for the expected renaming of the post, no later than Jan. 1, 2024.

Among the elected officials in attendance were State Rep. Charles Owen, State Sen. Mike Reese, Leesville Mayor Rick Allen, New Llano Mayor Carolyn Todd, Anacoco Mayor Keith Lewing, and DeRidder Mayor Misty Clanton. Also in attendance were Tommie Seaton representing U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, Woody Daigle representing U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, and Lee Turner representing U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson.

Reese thanked Gardner for spreading the “positive” things about Fort Polk with the rest of the Army during Winning the Fight for Talent visits with other installations.

“We’re open to recommendations and suggestions to improve things for Soldiers,” Reese said.

Allen also pledged Leesville’s support to JRTC and Fort Polk, especially with infrastructure improvements.

“Entrance Road has never looked like it was headed to the Home of Heroes,” Allen said. “We’re going to change that.”

The JRTC and Fort Polk will host other events for area educational and civic organization leaders on Aug. 30 at the annual State of JRTC event Sept. 2.