Commander says Army committed to Fort Polk - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Commander says Army committed to Fort Polk

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The Army is committed to Fort Polk says Commander Brigadier General William Hickman.  Hickman says the Joint Readiness Training Center is the army's crown jewel as far as training.

The Fort Polk Commanding General was in Lake Charles today speaking to a local civic club.  

He says as they draw down in Afghanistan the army's active force will reduce significantly.

"We're going to go from a high of 570,000 active duty soldiers down to 490,000 by fiscal year 2017. And we'll go down to 450,000 soon after that," said Hickman.

As well there could be more cutbacks says Hickman.

"If sequestration does come back though I expect the Army to get even smaller. And so that's something that has to be worked out with our senior leaders both from the military and our civilian senior leaders."

But even so Hickman says the army continues its commitment to Fort Polk.  He says there is more than $200 million worth of construction underway there now helping to modernize the installation.

"A new commissary will open this October.  A new fire station we just broke ground on.  A new water treatment plant, $8 million dollar water treatment plant that we just broke ground on a couple of weeks ago.  They're replacing the water treatment plant that was built in 1940. So it really is a commitment of the Army to continue going forward," said Hickman.

Hickman says training at the  JRTC is tailored to what the arriving units need.

"We usually have a scenario that includes weapons of mass destruction so they may have a chemical site or a nuclear type site they would have to secure given the threats around the world and how these weapon systems are being spread across the countries, across the world," said Hickman.

As they work to produce well trained soldiers and develop leaders who can make quality decisions under stress with imperfect information.  

When asked about the controversy on how the  VA meets health care needs, Hickman said veterans are pleased with services in the Fort Polk, Leesville and Alexandria areas.

Hickman says he believes there is a commitment to serve our veterans and he's pleased the country's senior leaders are concerned. 

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