Fort Polk (2)
Fort Polk (2) (1941-Active) - A World War II U.S. Army Fort established first as Camp Polk in 1941 near Leesville, Vernon Parish, Louisiana. Renamed Fort Polk on 1 Nov 1955 after Confederate General Leonidas Polk, West Point graduate (Cullum 477), who was killed during the U.S. Civil War at Pine Mountain 14 Jun 1864. Active U.S. Army post.
In May and August of 1940 maneuvers were held in Louisiana to test the organization and logistics of the U.S. Army which was just emerging from the horse cavalry days. These maneuvers revealed an appalling lack of usable equipment and tested the new "triangular" organization of Armies vs the old "square" division organization. A "Red Army" of some 37,000 troops organized as traditional "Square" regiments were pitted against some 28,000 troops organized as a "Blue Army" with "triangular" regiments (minimum overhead). The results revealed glaring deficiencies in equipment, supplies, and organization but validated the need for such maneuvers and it was clear that change was required and that Louisiana was a good place to train troops and test operations. Camp Polk construction began in January 1941.
Camp Polk was activated about 1 May 1941. The first trainees were elements of the 3rd Armored Division commanded by Major General Alvan C. Gillem, Jr. From 10 Aug 1941 to 4 Oct 1941 two full U.S. Armies engaged in what came to be known as the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers at Fort Polk. These maneuvers involved some 472,000 troops (one half of the existing U.S. Army) and about 50,000 vehicles. The maneuvers developed and tested the U.S. tactics and organizations required for what would be a fully mechanized war. These prewar maneuvers also provided a cadre of trained officers and men for the war that would begin in a little over two months with the Japanese attack on 7 Dec 1941.
The post trained a number of armored divisions during the war, the 11th Airborne Division, and the 95th Infantry. Camp Polk housed more than 4,000 prisoners of war toward the end of the war. The post closed on 31 Dec 1946 and was placed in caretaker status.
The post was reactivated for the Korean War, the Berlin crisis and the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam war, an advanced infantry training (AIT) center was established and Louisiana's heat, humidity, and precipitation were used to train and acclimatize soldiers for combat in Vietnam. More soldiers were shipped to Vietnam from Fort Polk than from any other American training base.
The 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) was reactivated at Fort Polk in 1975 and remained at Fort Polk until deactivated in November 1992. During this period Fort Polk experienced a major infrastructure building program that included new barracks, motor pools, 1000 family housing units, chapels, and dental clinics. The new facilities also included a new Army Community Hospital, Post Exchange, commissary, warehouses, classrooms, athletic complexes, and improved gunnery ranges.
In 1993, the Joint Readiness Training Center (JTC) moved from Fort Chaffee to Fort Polk with a mission to train troops deploying for combat and that mission continues.
Active U.S Army post currently expanding to provide more manuvering area.
Visited: 8 Apr 2016