Fort Polk
Fort Polk is a United States Army installation located in Vernon Parish approximately 7 miles east of Leesville, Louisiana and 20 miles north of DeRidder, Louisiana. It was named in honor of the Right Reverend Leonidas Polk, the first Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana, and a Confederate general. Fort Polk serves primarily as a training post for units preparing to deploy to fight the nation’s wars. Fort Polk encompasses approximately 198,000 acres. Of this, 100,000 acres are owned by the Department of the Army and 98,125 acres are owned by the U.S. Forest Service, mostly in the Kisatchie National Forest. Fort Polk is the only Combat Training Center that also trains and deploys combat units. Fort Polk began as a base for the Louisiana Maneuvers in the 1940s. It was home to the 1st Armored Division in the 1950s; it became a basic training post during Vietnam era of the 1960s-1970's; hosted the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) in the 1970s-1980's; and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from 1990's-2000's. It is now home of the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC); the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division; 115th Combat Support Hospital; 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; the 162nd Infantry Brigade, U.S. Army Garrison and Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital. The land that is now Fort Polk is part of a region full of cultural resources, such as archaeological sites, historic houses, structures, and other objects of historical value. The U.S. Army has spent considerable time, effort, and money locating, identifying, and inventorying thousands of archaeological sites on Fort Polk and on the property owned by the U.S. Forest Service where the army trains. For more information on these cultural resources, visit Polk History.org.

Current Events

Installation Strategic Sustainability Plan
Fort Polk is currently working with stakeholders from the Army, civic leaders, and other interested agencies to develop an Installation Strategic Sustainability Plan. As good stewards and neighbors, it is imperative that Fort Polk's long-term sustainability goals are consistent with the shared responsibilities of this installation and the surrounding communities. This plan, which is built on Fort Polk’s 25 year strategic goals, will effectively address sustainability issues that transcend our post boundaries and have regional or national interest. Fort Polk is paving the way for a new era in stewardship and integrated planning and considers this Installation Strategic Sustainability Plan to be a critical step in the continued viability of our shared resources. The areas of interest for the Installation Strategic Sustainability Plan are: 1) Facilities and Infrastructure; 2) Workforce Development; 3) Logistics; 4) Well Being; and 5) Readiness. Operation Enduring Freedom Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, run communications equipment from a bunker in the Daymirdad District Center, Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

Current Units

Operations Group
The Joint Readiness Training Center is focused on improving unit readiness by providing highly realistic, stressful, joint and combined arms training across the full spectrum of conflict (current and future). The JRTC is one of the United States Army’s three “Dirt” Combat Training Centers resourced to train infantry brigade task forces and their subordinate elements in the Joint Contemporary Operational Environment. With great emphasis on realism, the JRTC Operations Group provides rotational units with the opportunity to conduct joint operations which emphasize contingency force missions. The JRTC training scenario is based on each participating organization’s mission essential tasks list and many of exercises are mission rehearsals for actual operations the organization is scheduled to conduct. JRTC scenarios allow complete integration of Air Force and other military services as well as host-nation and civilian role players. The exercise scenarios replicate many of the unique situations and challenges a unit may face to include host national officials and citizens, insurgents and terrorists, news media coverage and non-governmental organizations. 1-509th (ABN) Infantry The mission of the Opposing Force is handled by the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne). It is the job of the 1-509th (ABN) to conduct combat operations as a dedicated, capabilities-based Opposing Force (OPFOR) to provide realistic, stressful, and challenging combat conditions for JRTC rotational units.

4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division was officially activated at Fort Polk on January 19, 2005. As part of the U.S. Army's tranformation initiative, this organization was designed to create a highly mobile, lethal, and flexible combat unit to support the rapid build-up of combat power wherever needed across the globe. The structure of the brigade is modular and provides for organic infantry, cavalry, field artillery, maintenance, logistic and support capabilities. The brigade was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2006 to 2007 then again for Operation Iraqi Freedom from April 2008 to March 2009. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division is currently deployed to Aghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

115th Combat Support Hospital
115th Combat Support Hospital is a deployable medical unit that provides medical specialties to the battlefield. Medical specialties provided by the 115th Combat Support Hospital include: general surgery, orthopedics, podiatry, and physical therapy. Additional support for clinical operations is provided through a pharmacy, X-ray services, clinical laboratories, anesthesia, and operative services. The 115th Combat Support Hospital is also staffed to provide medical command management and administrative support through an organic medical headquarters. During peacetime operations the 115th Field Hospital trains at the JRTC and Fort Polk. As a deployable medical systems hospital with the most modern equipment available, the unit is capable of being deployed in an area of operations during a contingency, war or national emergency. The 115th CSH is currently deployed to Aghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is one of two U.S. Army active duty Maneuver Enhancement Brigades (the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO). The 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is tasked to improve the movement capabilities and rear area security for commanders at division level or higher. The 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is a tailored combined arms force. Aside from its headquarters element and the organic communications and logistics elements that form the basis for commanding, controlling, and supporting the brigade, the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is a mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available, time available, and civil considerations-dependent organization. The 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade leverages emerging modular principles and the “plug-and-play” nature of developing forces to apply the right force for the mission. Typically, but not exclusively, the MEB is composed of engineer, military police, chemical, air defense, civil affairs, and other units that routinely function together during protection, stability, and support operations. The 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade has deployed units for combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and for humanitarian assistance in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

162nd Infantry Brigade
162nd Infantry Brigade, Foreign Security Forces-Transition Team, is an Infantry Training Unit consisting of high-speed elite Soldiers handpicked for their skills, knowledge, and performance history. The brigade is responsible for training transition teams to deploying to Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. U.S. forces are trained to prepare foreign civilian and military security forces within Afghanistan and Iraq for the transfer of security responsibilities back to the host nations. The Foreign Security Force Transition Team Training Brigade provides rotational units with the capability to provide training, coaching, and mentoring to the Afghanistan National Army and other Afghan Security forces in Afghanistan, and the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq.

U.S. Army Garrison
U.S. Army Garrison provides installation support for power projection, combat readiness and mission execution for all tenant units as well as JRTC rotational units; provides quality services and facilities, all the while optimizing available resources, sustaining our environment and enhancing the overall well-being of the Fort Polk community. U.S. Army Garrison provides installation support for Human Resources; Morale, Welfare & Recreation; Emergency Services; Logistics; Public Works; Public Affairs; Equal Opportunity; and Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital
Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital provides accessible and effective health care for the JRTC and Fort Polk community. The Fort Polk medical facility compromises the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, the Wellness and Readiness Center, the Department of Behavioral Health and the United States Army Air Ambulance Detachment. The hospital is named in honor of Brigadier General Stanhope Bayne-Jones, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. A bacteriologist and preventive medicine specialist, he achieved worldwide acclaim as the individual responsible for the control of typhus in Europe at the conclusion of World War II.

1940's

World War II
Construction of Camp Polk began in 1941. Thousands of wooden barracks sprang up quickly to support an Army preparing to do battle on the North African, European and Pacific fronts. Soldiers at Polk participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers, which were designed to test U.S. troops preparing for World War II. Until 1939, the Army had mostly been an infantry force with supporting artillery, engineer, and cavalry units. Few units had been motorized or mechanized. As U.S. involvement in World War II became more likely, the Army recognized the need to modernize the service. But it also needed large-scale maneuvers to test a fast-growing, inexperienced force. That is where Fort Polk and the Louisiana Maneuvers came in. The Maneuvers involved half a million soldiers in 19 Army Divisions, and took place over 3,400 square miles (8,800 km 2) in August and September 1941. The troops were divided equal armies of two notional countries: Kotmk (Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky) and Almat (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee). These countries were fighting over navigation rights for the Mississippi River. The Maneuvers gave Army leadership the chance to test a new doctrine that stressed the need for both mass and mobility. Sixteen armored divisions sprang up during World War II after the lessons learned during the Louisiana Maneuvers were considered. These divisions specialized in moving huge combined-arms mechanized units long distances in combat. On the defensive front, U.S. doctrine was based on two needs: the ability to defeat Blitzkrieg tactics; and how to deal with large numbers of German tanks attacking relatively narrow areas. As such, the Maneuvers also tested the concept of the tank destroyer. In this concept, highly mobile guns were held in reserve until friendly forces were attacked by enemy tanks. Then, the tank destroyers would be rapidly deploy to the flanks of the penetration. Tank destroyers employed aggressive, high-speed hit-and-run tactics. The conclusion drawn was that tank destroyer battalions should be raised. Immediately after the war, the battalions were disbanded and the anti-tank role was taken over by the Infantry, Engineer and Armor branches.

German POWs
While primarily a training facility, Camp Polk also served as a military prison for Germans captured during World War II. The first prisoners of war (POWs), who began arriving in Louisiana in July 1943, were from the Afrika Korps, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s troops who fought in North Africa. They were housed in a large fenced-in compound in the area now encompassing Honor Field, Fort Polk’s parade ground. Finding themselves captured, transported across the ocean, and imprisoned in the middle of summer was made to hurt their spirits. The POWs picked cotton, cut rice, and cut lumber. They also helped sandbag the raging Red River in the summer of 1944. Prisoners were not forced to work, and some refused. Those who worked earned scrip for their labor, with which they could buy such necessities as toothpaste or snacks at their own Post Exchange. From the end of World War II until the early 1960s, the post was closed and reopened numerous times. During much of this time, it was open only in the summers to support reserve component training. Soldiers were stationed there temporarily during the Korean War and the Berlin Crisis.

1950's

Korea
In August 1950, the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma Army National Guard became the first unit to train at Fort Polk in preparation for the Korean War. During the Korean War the 45th Infantry Division suffered 4,004 casualties; 834 killed in action and 3,170 wounded in action The division was awarded four campaign streamers and one Presidential Unit Citation. Most of the units who rotated through Camp Polk during 1952-54 were trained for combat by the 37th Infantry Division of the Ohio Army National Guard. Although the 37th division itself was not sent to Korea as a unit, nearly every soldier was sent as an individual replacement.

Operation Sagebrush
In 1955, the U.S. military conducted another large training exercise that covered a substantial portion of Louisiana. Named Operation Sagebrush, the focus of this exercise was to evaluate the effectiveness of military operations in a nuclear environment. The exercise lasted for 15 days with 85,000 troops participating. A provisional army, meant to represent U.S. forces, was built around the 1st Armored Division and an opposing force was built around the 82nd Airborne Division. U.S. Air Force bombers and fighter planes also participated in this exercise with powerful aircraft operating in the sky, stirring great interest among the citizens of the region.

1st Armored Division
Upon completion of Operation Sagebrush, Camp was declared a permanent installation and the 1st Armored Division was reassigned from Fort Hood to the newly renamed Fort Polk to continue to test mobility and combat strategies for the nuclear age. The 1st Armored Division, with its modern M-48 Patton Tanks and new helicopters, remained at Fort Polk until June 1959, before returning to Fort Hood.

1960's - 1970's

Vietnam
In 1962, Fort Polk began converting to an infantry training center. A small portion of Fort Polk is filled with dense, jungle-like vegetation, and this helped commanders prepare their units for battle in Southeast Asia. This training area became known as Tigerland. For the next 12 years, more soldiers were shipped to Vietnam from Fort Polk than from any other American training base. On Jan. 23, 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s negotiated settlement to the hostilities took effect. In October 1974, Fort Polk became the new home of the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), and basic training and AIT started being phased out. Fort Polk changed from a Continental Army Command (CONARC) post in July 1975 and became a Forces Command (FORSCOM) member. In the spring of 1976, the Infantry Training Center at Fort Polk closed its doors and ceased operations. The final chapter of the Vietnam War ended for Fort Polk.

1970's - 1980's
With the end of the Vietnam War, Fort Polk experienced a transition from an installation focused on basic and advanced individual training to that of the home of the reactivated 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized). Activated in September, 1975, the division called Fort Polk home until it was inactivated in November, 1992. The date of this inactivation, November 24, 1992, was exactly 75 years from the date of the original activation of the division on November 24, 1917. The division was organized with two active duty brigades and a brigade from the Louisiana National Guard. While at Fort Polk, the 5th Infantry Division participated in the NATO Reforger 84 Exercise in Europe and the 1989 Invasion of Panama, known as Operation Just Cause. During the stay of the 5th infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Polk experienced a major building program. The post saw the construction of new barracks, motor pools, 1000 family housing units, chapels, dental clinics and the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital. Also build during this time was a modern Post Exchange commissary, warehouses, classrooms, athletic complexes and improved gunnery ranges.

1990's

JRTC moves to Polk
In 1993, the Joint Readiness Training Center moved from Fort Chaffee, Ark., to Fort Polk, and once again, the post was called on to prepare soldiers for conflict. Each year, JRTC typically conducts several rotations for units about to deploy. Durning the 1990s, Fort Polk based Soldiers deployed to Haiti, Southwest Asia, Suriname, Panama, Bosnia, and other locations.

2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment
The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment arrived at Fort Polk in 1994 as the armored cavalry regiment of the XVIII Airborne Corps. Elements of the regiment deployed to Haiti in 1995 in support of Operation Uphold Democracy and to Bosnia in 1996 in support of Operation Joint Endeavor. The 2nd ACR deployed to Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and Djibouti in 2002 to in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and then deployed in Iraq in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (now known as Operation New Dawn). The Army announced on 14 May 2004, that the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment would be transformed into an Infantry-based Stryker Brigade and move to Fort Lewis, WA. The transfer of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Polk to Fort Lewis was completed in 2006.