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Outside the U.S. Army, it is likely Operation Warrior Forge is unfamiliar to most in the community. But for those in leadership inside the post’s gates and members of the CORE Committee, it has been an important target for addition to Fort Knox for many years. Last week’s announcement that the training program is coming to our local Army post was welcome news for many who have worked for this cause for quite a long period of time.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, commander of Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, publicly announced the Army’s decision to move Operation Warrior Forge, formally known as the Leadership Development and Assessment Course, LDAC, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington to Fort Knox. The change will become effective next summer.
The Leadership Development and Assessment Course is the largest annual training program conducted by Army Training and Doctrine Command. For some 6,000 senior-level ROTC cadets from more than 270 colleges and universities across the country, the program is an intense 29-day training cycle focused on scenario-based exercises that put to the test a cadet’s team and individual leadership abilities. Including earning their university degree with all military science requirements, completion of LDAC is among the final steps ROTC cadets must achieve to earn their second lieutenant commissions. The program has been hosted by Joint Base Lewis-McChord since 1997.
Bringing Operation Warrior Forge to Fort Knox makes practical and financial sense for the Army.
Fort Knox has been the host for Cadet Command’s Leader’s Training Course, a four-week accelerated classroom and field training program for ROTC cadets. Aligning both the LTC and LDAC together at Fort Knox will offer training and support cadre synergies that distance between Kentucky and Washington eliminates. For future cadets experiencing both LTC and Operation Warrior Forge at Fort Knox can create familiarity to enhance the training experience.
Moving LDAC to Fort Knox will enable a savings for the Army, too. Retired Maj. Gen. Bill Barron, executive director of the CORE Committee, pointed to savings of between $10 million and $12 million the Army estimates will be saved in bringing cadets and training staff to Knox rather than sending them to the West Coast to Lewis-McChord.
The move will offer the local economy the opportunity for a lift while the cadet regiments are training on post. According to information found on the Operation Warrior Forge website, more than 4,500 Army cadre and contracted civilians provide training and program support within the Leader Development and Assessment Course. Though cadets will have their time fully occupied on post, these training and support folks will need the services of area hotels, restaurants and retailers while in town through the summer months.
Long is the list of those who worked behind the scenes to bring this decision to reality. Certainly, Maj. Gen. Smith was key to the favorable decision, and his predecessors played equally important roles, too. Support from Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie and U.S. senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell was important, too.
With this move, Fort Knox will play an even more pivotal role in training and equipping the Army’s future generations of leaders. The Hardin County community will be a part of and benefit through the coming of Operation Warrior Forge.