Fort Leavenworth, the “intellectual center of the Army,” has got a little more muscle these days.
Best known as the home of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, the Combined Arms Center and the Command and General Staff College, the numbers of enlisted soldiers at Fort Leavenworth have swelled in recent years–and they’re MPs.
“The nature of this post is changing,” said Col. Wayne Green, the garrison commander. “It’s not an officer’s post, and we work pretty hard to refute that, because if you’re an E-2’s spouse, you’ll think ‘I’m on an officer’s post and nobody cares about me.’ Quite the opposite.”
On our visit to Leavenworth this week, we learned the traditional population of 1,400 students and their spouses has added 1,200 noncommissioned officers in two years. That’s in part because the Army Corrections Brigade reflagged as the 15th Military Police Brigade.
Under brigade commander Col. Eric Belcher are two deployable MP battalions, the 40th Military Police Internment and Resettlement Battalion, which oversees operations of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, and the 705th MP I/R Battalion, which oversees operations of the new Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility.The 705th returned from Iraq in September, and the 40th MPs are there now, manning the Camp Cropper Theater Internment Facility as part of Operation New Dawn.
There has been $287 million in construction, mostly for the new prison, but also for the company headquarters for the new MPs and other projects, Green said. The post has also expanded its single solder quarters, built a new chapel, and overhauled its gym, but the capstone of the transformation of the post is a resiliency center now under construction at Lowe Hall.
Plans to renovate the historic troop hospital turned garrison headquarters were changed to follow the Army’s comprehensive soldier fitness goals, and now the building will serve as the three-story resiliency center.
“A light-bulb went off in our ops center 18 months ago, and they said, ‘Where might we put this?'” Green said. “There you go.”
Intended as a “one-stop” location for soldiers and their families looking to heal mentally, physically and spiritually, it will incorporate Army Community Services, FMWR headquarters, children’s activities, services for Gold Star families and other offices.
“We hope that one of the tangential benefits is that we also pull in the E-2, E-3, E-4, because their network’s not as rich as major’s wife’s that’s been in for 12 years,” Green said. “They can come here, walk through that front door.”
The ribbon cutting is likely for late May or early June, Green said.