Chennault to be home to new National Guard readiness site


Chennault International Airport officials announced this week 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 will be the future home to National Guard units from across the state, after officials announced plans this week for the construction of a new National Guard readiness center on airport grounds.

The projected $24 million, 60,000 square foot readiness center will house approximately 170 soldiers from multiple units who experienced damage to their armory from Hurricane Laura.

Those include Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion of the 156th Infantry Regiment; Detachment 1, H Company of the 199th Support Battalion; and B Company of the LANG’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

The project will be funded by the National Guard with Chennault maintaining ownership of the grounds the readiness center will be built on.

Chennault’s executive director Kevin Melton said airport officials were excited for the opportunity to collaborate with the National Guard, and that he believes the new readiness center could provide an economic boost to the surrounding area.

“The Chennault International Airport is here for one thing and that is economic development. The addition of the new Guard facility supports that vision, and we are proud to host the important training of the warriors of the Louisiana National Guard. I believe this year has taught us all the value and importance of our guardsmen, and we thank them for their hard work and efforts,” Melton told the American Press.

As of this week, the design for the new facility is 60 percent complete, according to LANG officials.

Melton said the facility will not affect airport operations. The only potential change being addressed would be in relation to local interstate access points.

“They will need to be able to support the maneuvering of the National Guard’s large equipment to and from the site. It’s nothing insurmountable, and will only add to the location being the right fit for this facility,” Melton stated.

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

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter proclaimed the news of the future readiness center a “monumental announcement coming on the heels of a truly difficult year.”

“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,” Hunter stated.

This year has been an especially challenging one for Louisiana guardsmen, as units helped in the state’s effort to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, had a series of deployments, and the busiest hurricane season since 2005. According to officials, LANG units across the state administered more than 300,000 COVID tests, packaged more than 21 million pounds of food, distributed more than 56 million personal protective equipment items, and completed more than 4,500 PPE delivery missions.

Groundbreaking at the Lake Charles Readiness Center is expected to be in fall 2021 with completion in 2023.

American Press