Fort Polk ‘a jewel’ among installations
Secretary of Army impressed with military training
Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper met with officials at Fort Polk’s Joint Readiness Training Center Friday to observe first-hand the coordinated training efforts taking place at the installation.
With over 5,000 soldiers from various other installations and from around the world training together at at any given time, along with multiple National Guardsman components, Fort Polk has become known for its ability to offer multi-faceted training amongst all elements. Already this year, the installation has hosted military members from across the globe including Great Britain and Tunisia.
Sec. Esper said it was those training opportunities that led him to call Fort Polk “a jewel” among installations, and to choose the Vernon Parish installation as the perfect place for him to “reassess the state of training for the army”.
“It’s been a great 24 hours to do that. I’ve been very impressed with what I saw on the ground, and what I saw with in regards to Brig. Gen. Patrick Frank and also the other elements here on Fort Polk,” Esper stated.
Sec. Esper said that with a recent push from Secretary of Defense James Mattis to focus on high-intensity conflict against strategic competitors, military training is making a fundamental change on how it prepares its soldiers. He said he believed visiting Fort Polk allowed him to make a good assessment of the improving readiness of soldiers.
During his visit, Sec. Esper observed a National Guard unit from Illinois launch an all-combat arms attack using Apache helicopters, tanks and weapons systems just before entering into a live fire training scenario.
“I saw a much more demanding, more dynamic training threat scenario than I recall from 25 years ago. I’m very encouraged by what they are doing. Gen. Frank and his team are on the right path with regard to presenting our soldiers with threat scenarios that they are likely to experience in any future conflict,” he stated.
Sec. Esper said that he believed Fort Polk would continue to serve a vital role in preparing soldiers for conflict in the future.
“There is a reason why the JRTC, the National Training Centers, are the last stops for any unit before they go abroad on deployment,” he stated. “Because we know this is the place where they will get the most demanding, most rigorous, and best training to validate all the training preceding them so that they are ready before they deploy,” he stated.
Sec. Esper said he will be bringing multiple lessons learned during his time at Fort Polk back with him to D.C.
“We have talked about a number of things over the last 24 hours, down to the tactical level up to the strategic level and across multiple components, so I take notes and I take them back to the army staff and we do a lot of follow-up on these things.”
‘I saw a much more demanding, more dynamic training threat scenario than I recall from 25 years ago.’
Dr. Mark T. Esper
Secretary of the Army
Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper met with officials at Fort Polk Friday, August 3, 2018.
Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper, left, met with Fort Polk Commanding General Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, right, on Friday to observe ongoing training scenarios at the installation to assess the Army’s readiness.