The fitness trails around post that were created in 2012 and 2013 have been a great addition to Fort Knox. They promote fitness and provide all those who live and work on post with a convenient option for jogging, walking or riding a bicycle. The trails also are beautiful, as one can take in the natural landscape and wildlife of central Kentucky.
It is for these reasons why I share in Ms. Hammond’s disappointment that a portion of the fitness trails will be closed from May to mid-August. This decision was not made lightly, but rather out of absolute necessity to support a significant new mission and ensure people’s safety.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command’s Leader Develop-ment and Assessment Course is that new mission. The course was previously taught at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. It was announced last August that LDAC would move to Fort Knox to create greater efficiencies and save the Army millions of dollars. This move makes sense with Cadet Command headquarters located here and the Leader’s Training Course—Cadet Command’s other primary cadet summer training program—already here as well.
Prior to the announcement, it was believed this move would likely occur in 2015; however, Army leadership determined that LDAC needed to start at Fort Knox in 2014. This gave Cadet Command and the Fort Knox Garrison Command eight months to make this happen. The entire team has done a phenomenal job, and I’m confident we will execute this mission successfully. However, unforeseen challenges sometimes arise, given the tight deadlines and the constant refinement, development and implementation of plans.
An example is concerning the training ranges. A lot of great work has taken place in the range complex over the last several months to set up what will be needed for the cadets. In the course of making sure all range needs could be met, it was determined that Heard Park and Training Area 7—ranges where a portion of the fitness trails run through—are the only ranges on post with the infrastructure and capabilities required to accommodate specific portions of cadet training. The nature of the training in these locations includes the use of a gas chamber and pyrotechnics, casualty simulations, as well as individual and squad-level tactical movements. As such, the trails in and around these areas needed to be closed due to safety hazards.
It’s important to note that at the time the fitness trails were developed, there was no enduring training mission that required the use of the areas in question. However, LDAC’s subsequent move to Fort Knox and the range space available to accommodate its specific mission requirements necessitated this action.
Following this iteration of LDAC, we will have much more predictability in how the recurring LDAC mission will affect Fort Knox. As a result, we will be able to better communicate in a timely manner how the entire cadet summer training mission—which brings with it between 11,000 and 12,000 cadets and cadre—will impact the installation.
While an Army mission has required this temporary closure of a portion of the fitness trails, we still encourage everyone to take advantage of the other nearby trails—Brady Loop by the Caruso Youth Sports Complex, the path that runs down the west side of Wilson Road, and the path that extends into Radcliff’s recently enhanced Saunders Springs Nature Preserve.
We regret any inconvenience this has caused to the Fort Knox community, and we appreciate everyone’s support and understanding.
Strength Starts Here! Army Strong!
Col. T.J. Edwards
Fort Knox Garrison Commander