Hurricane-Ravaged Lake Charles, La., to Get New National Guard Center

Tue December 29, 2020 - Southeast Edition
KPLC Digital Team

Chennault International Airport officials announced that the airport will serve as host of a new training center for the Louisiana National Guard set to be completed in 2023. Above, an artist’s rendering of the proposed training center.
Chennault International Airport officials announced that the airport will serve as host of a new training center for the Louisiana National Guard set to be completed in 2023. Above, an artist’s rendering of the proposed training center.

Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2021 on a 60,000-plus sq. ft. National Guard readiness center at Chennault International Airport.

The $24 million Lake Charles Readiness Center will be the future home of multiple Louisiana National Guard (LANG) units who experienced damage to their armory during Hurricane Laura. The plans for the new readiness center began before the storm barreled through southwest Louisiana last August, devastating large parts of Lake Charles and its airport.

Lt. Col. Scott Slaven, LANG's construction facilities management officer, noted recently that progress continues on the planning and design of the new readiness center in Lake Charles despite challenges with COVID-19 and other major storms in 2020.

"Through the efforts and dedication of our design partner, Holly and Smith Architects from Hammond, La., design is now 60 percent complete," he said. "This has truly been a collaborative effort, and I look forward to the day when we can turn over a first-class facility to our soldiers."

Brig. Gen. Keith Waddell, the Adjutant General of LANG, also supports the progress on the new building.

"We're looking forward to beginning construction on the Lake Charles Readiness Center in 2021 and are pleased with the opportunity to continue working with the leadership at Chennault International Airport, the city of Lake Charles and other state and local stakeholders," Waddell commented. "Our priority remains serving the citizens of Louisiana."

The new facility will serve as the headquarters and headquarters company of the 3rd Battalion of the 156th Infantry Regiment; Detachment 1, H Company of the 199th Support Battalion; and B Company of LANG's Recruiting and Retention Battalion. It also will support approximately 170 soldiers.

"We welcome and look forward to the development of the 3-156 Infantry Battalion's new home at Chennault International Airport," said Kevin Melton, executive director of the airport. "We're proud to host — right here in our own backyard — the robust and important training of the warriors of the Louisiana National Guard. The addition of the new Guard facility supports Chennault's vision of growth for the economic good for our region and state."

The mission and purpose of the Lake Charles Readiness Center will be to provide space for training, administration and material storage for the assigned National Guard units.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter welcomed the announcement.

"This is a monumental announcement coming on the heels of a truly difficult year," Hunter said. "The Louisiana National Guard's commitment to build a multi-million-dollar Readiness Center at Chennault is a true testament to the value the airport brings to our regional economy. Now, more than ever, a diversified economy is critical to the rebuilding of our community."