Fort Leonard Wood is a large Army training post located in the heart of the Ozark region in the state of Missouri. The nearest cities are Waynesville, Missouri and St. Robert, Missouri in Pulaski County. Waynesville has a population of 3507 and is situated on historic Route 66. St. Roberts has a population of 2760 and is considered to be the shopping district for the area. Both cities co-own and operate the regional airport which is located on Fort Leonard Wood and is the only available air field in the region. Fort Leonard Wood has 63,000 acres and covers 98 square miles. The remote rural location is ideal for a training post and offers many rugged acres suitable for field training, but the remoteness has earned Fort Leonard Wood the nickname of “Fort Lost in the Woods of Misery”.
The post was built in 1940 and named after the then Chief of Staff, General Leonard Wood. The original intent was to be an infantry training post for World War II. That changed within a short time and became an engineer training post. Two future base realignment and closures processes consolidated and transferred their training schools to Fort Leonard Wood and the post became the center for training students from Chemical Corps and Police Corps. The post then became the US Army Maneuver Support Center. In 2009 the Maneuver Support Center was designated as a Center of Excellence and the fort became a Basic Combat Training Center for most non-combat soldiers in the Army. In addition to the basic training, the post is also home for training new 2nd Lieutenants in the engineer and military police branches, the Basic Officer Training Course Phase B, the Non-commissioned Officer Academy, the Warrior Leaders Course, and the Advanced Leaders Course for Ordnance NCOs. It is safe to say that Fort Leonard Wood is the Army training center for nearly all Army personnel at one point or another in their military careers.
At one point in the history of Fort Leonard Wood the post was a bustling train center that connected the post railway system to the regular commercial railway. The connection still exists, but the operation has been scaled down to only two engines that operate 20 side cars mostly for transporting heavy equipment used for training operations.
Post housing has 2100 units of housing available in four separate neighborhoods. Units are available in 2 to 4 bedroom units. Most housing is either new housing, or newly renovated housing and very attractive. It is privatized housing and soldiers will receive a basic housing allowance according to rank which they will in turn pay rent to the company running the housing office. There may be a waiting period to obtain post housing. Rental apartments and homes are available in the surrounding area.
Pulaski County has seven school districts, all of which have a high percentage of students affiliated with Fort Leonard Wood. Two-thirds of the school population in Waynesville is comprised of Fort Leonard Wood dependents.
- 70,000 square foot Post Exchange with a food court which features Greek Odysee, Charlie’s Steakery, Manchu Wok, Anthony’s Pizza, and Robin Hood. A stand alone drive-thru exists for Burger King and Church’s Chicken. There is also a separate building for the furniture store and the uniform store.
- Concession stores which include an optical shop, flower shop, engraving shop, shoe shines, cell phone service, General Nutrition Center, and packing and shipping store.
- Mini mall with shoppette and Blimpie sandwiches and Taco John’s.
- Local outdoor activities abound. The Ozark area is famous for scenic surroundings and hunting and fishing experiences. St. Louis, Missouri is two hours away on the interstate.