Fort Polk Progress changes name to Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance

Rick Allen, Chairman of the Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance (LAFA), addresses members of the...
Rick Allen, Chairman of the Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance (LAFA), addresses members of the Louisiana Municipal Association at the recent District D meeting in Leesville.(Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance)
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 3:42 PM CDT
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LEESVILLE, La. (LAFA) - In a move to include representation of more areas of the state and to accommodate a pending name change for Fort Polk as a result of the William “Mac” Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 (NDAA 2021) the board of directors for Fort Polk Progress voted recently to change the nonprofit organization’s name to the Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance.

The Naming Commission is charged by the NDAA 2021 with providing recommendations to Congress for the removal or renaming of DoD assets that commemorate the Confederate States of America or those who voluntarily served with the Confederacy. The Commission is suggesting that Fort Polk, named for Gen. Leonidas Polk, Confederate States of America, be renamed Fort Johnson, for Sgt. William Henry Johnson.

“Since the name change of Fort Polk is written into law and will obviously affect our own name, the board and I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to broaden our organization’s overall purpose,” said Rick Allen, chairman of the Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance.

Recently, Allen has been touring the state, attending various district meetings of the Louisiana Municipal Association not only campaigning for the position of second vice president but also endorsing the Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance.

“The nation relies on Louisiana to train soldiers, project combat readiness globally and secure peace through military power, and the Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance’s new name projects the inclusiveness required for continued strength,” Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said. “The most recent economic impact analysis showed that military-related spending accounts for $9.6 billion in annual economic impact in Louisiana. I applaud the Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance for working so diligently to build awareness of the 77,000 jobs supported by military activities across our state.”

“Every city and town in the state has a stake in our military, whether they have an installation in their backyard or not,” Allen said. “In terms of its economic impact on the state, the military comes in behind oil and natural gas, trails slightly behind tourism, but significantly outpaces other top industries combined, such as agriculture, seafood, and chemical distribution.”

“Previously, we’ve been focused on keeping Fort Polk stable and growing,” he said. “But we have resources in place and we are ready and willing to reach out to other communities, the whole state in fact, in order to do what we can to protect and grow all of our military assets.”

Allen referenced the Military Economic Impact Analysis for the State of Louisiana, completed in 2021 and commissioned by Louisiana Economic Development.

The report, which divides Louisiana into eight regions, makes it clear that while each region may not have a major military installation, all regions have a National Guard and/or US Coast Guard presence and benefit either directly or indirectly from spending at other military facilities and activities around the state.

“There’s no question that we’re all connected when it comes to the economic impact of the military on our state,” said Allen. “What happens at Barksdale affects all of us. What happens at Belle Chasse affects all of us. What happens at Fort Polk affects all of us,” he said.

“The question is, what can we accomplish if we team together to not only protect these installations but work to grow them?” he added.

In the coming weeks, the Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance will make changes to its website, logos and other media to reflect the name change.

The Naming Commission will deliver a written report to the House Armed Services Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee by Oct. 1, 2022, that includes a list of identified assets, the costs to remove or rename them, and the criteria and methods developed to identify those assets.

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