Vol. 45, No. 32 Published for the community of Fort Polk, La. Aug. 10, 2018 Guardian Fort Polk Inside the Guardian iWatch tips ................. 3 Cyber cmd expands .... 4 Guard trains .............. 7 IG of fers help .............. 9 School calendar ........ 10 Tour de Bayou ........... 16 www.jrtc-polk.army.mil Weekend weather Today Saturday Sunday 90 89 92 73 60% 30% 50% 74 74 Rain chance Rain chance Rain chance FORT POLK, La — Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper visited the Joint Readiness Train- ing Center and Fort Polk Aug. 2-3 to glimpse first-hand training by the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Illinois National Guard. While the trip was Esper’s first to the JRTC as Secretary of the Army, he did “visit” during rota- tions while a member of the active Army and Na- tional Guard. At the end of Esper’s visit, he held a question and answer session with local media at the Berry Mission Training Complex on Fort Polk. Esper began with an opening statement that told of his first trip to the JRTC, “and my unit parachuted into Geronimo Drop Zone. We spent three wonderful weeks out in the box.” Esper spoke of the leadership of Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commander, JRTC and Fort Polk, and his command team, as well as the Sol- diers and cadre in the field. “They are all exceptional,” he said. Esper also thanked the Louisiana Congres- sional delegation and local civic leaders for their support of Fort Polk. “I would be remiss if I didn’t say how much I heard about the great community support that our military receives from the local towns and cities,” he said. During the 10 months Esper has held his cur- rent position, he said he’s worked at accomplish- ing two things: Reacquainting himself with the Army and reassessing the state of Army training. “I spent 21 years in the Army, either active duty or Guard and Reserve, but there’s been a gap in time since,” he said. “And there is no bet- ter place to assess the readiness and training of our Army than to come to the combat training centers, JRTC being one of them.” Esper said he was impressed by what he had observed. He then opened the floor to questions from the assembled media: Q: Why is it important for you to visit train- ing centers like JRTC? A: It’s important because we had seen a de- crease in Army readiness, and now with great support from Congress in FY(fiscal year)17 with funding, and certainly with FY18 and 19 we are on an uptick, so the trajectory is right to improve our readiness. At the same time, the Secretary of Defense (Gen. James) Mattis has given us a de- fense strategy that told us to be focused on high- intensity future conflict, likely against strategic competitors such as Russia and China. That means we need to think differently about how we prepare for warfare. Changing how we train and prepare for readiness is critical, and that’s job No. 1 for me. That’s why of the three priori- ties that I set when I came in the office, No. 1 was readiness. Visiting the Joint Readiness Training Center makes that all the more important for me to get a good assessment, not only from what I see, but what General (Brig. Gen. Patrick D.) Frank and his cadre tell me they are witnessing on the ground with regard to the readiness of our Soldiers. Q: What are your impressions of what you have observed so far at JRTC? A: First of all, I think it is much more demand- ing than when I came through here 24 or 25 years ago. What I saw today was a National Guard unit from Illinois, they were leveraging all com- bat arms as they were going through, using Apache helicopters, M1 tanks, all their organic weapons systems, and they were preparing to do a live fire, which is something I don’t recall us doing 25 years ago. They also had a much more demanding, dynamic training threat scenario Army secretary visits JRTC; talks readiness, training By CHUCK CANNON Guardian editor Please see JRTC , page 5 Staff Sgt. BRANDY N. MEJIA / ARMY NEWS SERVICE Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper (left) visits Peason Ridge training area with Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, during a blank-fire iteration and defensive operations with units of the Illi- nois National Guard as part of JRTC Rotation 18-09 Aug. 2.