By Angie Thorne, Fort Polk Guardian associate editorSeptember 20, 2010
FORT POLK, La. -- At the heart of Fort Polk, on the busy corner where Louisiana and Mississippi Avenues converge, top brass and distinguished guests gathered Sept. 9 to celebrate the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk ground breaking ceremony for the new 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light) Headquarters.
This is a brigade that has successfully deployed in the past and is preparing for another deployment to Afghanistan next month. Construction will take place while they are deployed and should be ready for occupation as they return home to Fort Polk.
The 4-10 has worked hard to prepare for deployment, just like they always do, said Brig. Gen. James C. Yarbrough, JRTC and Fort Polk commanding general. "While the brigade's focus is preparing Soldiers to go to war, completing their mission and coming home safe, they shouldn't have to worry about what will get them a new headquarters building," said Yarbrough.
"We've asked a lot of these Soldiers, now we are recognizing that where they work is also important. It's the Soldiers themselves, through their blood, sweat and tears, that have paid for every brick, nail and square foot of concrete for this headquarters. The cost in dollars is about 9.4 million, part of what we need to do to take care of our Soldiers," said Col. Francis Burns, JRTC and Fort Polk garrison commander.
A new headquarters for the 4/10 has been in the works since 2004, said Burns. The current brigade headquarters is a World War II era barracks building with a long list of repairs. "We've put a lot of sustainable restoration and modernization into the building, but enough is enough," said Burns.
Yarbrough said that the new facility is forward progress. "Patriot Brigade deserves better than what they've been living in. When they pull in their parking place in the morning and go into the office, they deserve to feel good about it. This place doesn't make you feel good about much. It's got tons of band-aid solutions and the floors creak," said Yarbrough, referring to the old headquarters.
But it's not just about being new. The new headquarters is going to be an example of leadership energy and efficiency design. According to www.usgbc.org, LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system. "That means energy savings, water efficiency, emissions reductions, improved indoor environmental quality and a sensitivity to our impact. It also means less dollars spent on the maintenance of the building. It's definitely a win for 4/10," said Burns.
The new headquarters could not have been possible without the Directorate of Public Works and the Corps of Engineers team with input from 4/10, said Burns. "Thank you all for your tireless efforts in making this installation a better place to work and live. It's going to be a great addition to the community, installation and the Patriot Brigade. Soldiers are getting a truly quality product that is commensurate with their service and changing the perception of Fort Polk for the better," said Burns.
"You got what's coming to you and it'll be a great day when we can cut a yellow ribbon for the grand opening," said Yarbrough.
Completion of this headquarters is scheduled for October 2011.