Leaders make case to move cadet training to Fort Knox

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Officials: LDAC relocation would bring synergy, savings

By Sarah Berkshire

Three members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation are pushing to relocate a major ROTC cadet training program to Fort Knox.

In a letter to Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie and Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul said the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., should move to Fort Knox.

FortKnoxis home to U.S. Army Cadet Command, which oversees LDAC, and hosts the command’s other major training, Leader’s Training Course.

The Army is assessing relocation because it would simplify command, reduce redundancies and make ROTC training more effective, Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal wrote to McConnell late last year.

Kentuckyrepresentatives said from training and cost perspectives, LDAC should relocate.

Retired Maj. Gen. Bill Barron, executive director of CORE Committee, a group that promotes the growth and protection of Fort Knox, said the move would save $10 to $12 million each year.

A relocation decision has not been made, according to Cadet Command.

The letter by McConnell, Paul and Guthrie noted the relocation would bring relief to the community hit hardest by recent brigade combat team deactivations. Fort Knox will lose its only combat team and about 40 percent of its soldiers.

Barron said the measures behind the decision to cut 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division are unclear.

“We know the value of Fort Knox from a training standpoint and are still trying to work out why the Army decided to stand down the 3/1,” he said.

LDAC would have some economic benefits, mostly in business it would drum up for the lodging and food industries, Barron said. The training puts about 9,500 people in the area. About 6,000 cadets stay on post. About 3,500 instructors and other military personnel largely are housed off post.

As for money the move would save, a significant piece would come from travel. It costs less to fly cadets and instructors in and out of centrally located Fort Knox than Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Barron said.

Additionally, Fort Knox would be an easier travel destination for cadets’ parents who want to attend graduation and commissioning ceremonies.

“For a lot of parents, this is their first visit to an installation, seeing how the military works and its impact on their kids,” Barron said.

A soldier for 38 years, Barron said the key benefit is that combining the trainings at Fort Knox would create synergy that would improve the programs.

Cadets attend the 29-day LDAC near the end of their ROTC training. Then, cadets who have completed their degree and military science requirements receive their commissions as second lieutenants. Other cadets return to their colleges to complete commissioning requirements, according to Cadet Command.

Leader’s Training Course, which has been hosted at Fort Knox since about 1964, is a four-week program typically completed between a student’s sophomore and junior years. Upon completion, a cadet can enter the four-year ROTC program at college as a third-year student.

The proposal to move LDAC is not new. Army officials have mentioned the move publicly as early as 2011. The congressional letter reiterates points to persuade the Army to move LDAC.

Legislators want to see Fort Knox grow and prosper, “and the Army has basically indicated it makes sense to move LDAC here,” Barron said.

The CORE Committee has been involved with the courses before. In the mid ’90s, the Army considered moving both trainings to Fort Benning or Fort Bragg, but abandoned the idea. In July 2006, Accessions Command, which has since stood down, proposed moving LTC to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

After the committee and other groups provided a briefing, that proposal was set aside. There is no indication the Fort Knox training is at risk.

“A short way to put it is since the mid-’90s the Army has looked several times at moving (LTC) from Fort Knox and in every case has decided Fort Knox is the right place for LTC,” Barron said.

Sarah Berkshire can be reached at (270) 505-1745 or sberkshire@thenewsenterprise.com.