'The Box' at Fort Polk opens to the public for annual demonstration

Published: May. 1, 2017 at 6:21 PM CDT
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On Saturday, JRTC at Fort Polk opened its training area, known as "the box," to the public.

The Box is designed to look and feel like a village in the Middle East. Soldiers from around the U.S. undergo training in The Box before deployment. While these soldiers spend weeks at a time training, many civilians are curious about what goes on in The Box.

The Box holds a demonstration yearly. Saturday was army spouse Ashton Bean’s second time to watch her husband in The Box.

"When you see it happen, and it goes so smoothly, you can say, ‘Oh, okay. I kind of see what he does in The Box,’" said Ashton.

Saturday’s demonstration was rehearsed a few days prior, but the soldiers said it is overall realistic.

“It would be a little more confusing in real life,” said SPC Sean Bean from the 1-509th Airborne Infantry Regiment. “It wasn't too bad though."

Scenarios and tactics used in The Box are always changing based on what soldiers are facing overseas. The box helps both soldiers and their spouses gain confidence before a deployment.

"Obviously it's scary,” said Ashton. “But I am going to support him either way. I know that he can do It."

"This is probably the best way to get ready for deployment,” said SPC Bean. “You can go to all the ranges, you can do all the live fires, but until you get put under the pressure, you don't really know."

For many, this was their first look at life in The Box, but other civilians are very familiar

"A way for me to pay back and give service in the training of our soldiers," said Gayla Heflin, a role-player in The Box who has participated for five years.

"We try to speak the language, and practice their principles, and cultures and customs," said Heflin.

The role players bring The Box to life, and help the soldiers learn how to work with people of different cultures.

With all of the training he has received in The Box, SPC Bean said he is looking forward to deployment.

"That's what I joined for,” said SPC Bean. “I didn't join to stay back here the whole time. I joined to deploy."