Sen. Roy Blunt questioned Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno regarding the impact of budget cuts on Fort Leonard Wood during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Defense this week.
Blunt told McHugh that he had recently met with several community leaders of the Fort Leonard Wood who were pleased that McHugh visited Fort Leonard Wood earlier this month.
McHugh visited Fort Leonard Wood May 9-10.
He said that the community leaders he met with raised concern about possible future job cuts to Fort Leonard Wood because of Army 2020.
The Army plans to reduce the total number of forces from 562,000 at the end of fiscal year 2012 to 490,000 by fiscal year 2020, which could result in cutting 3,900 jobs on Fort Leonard Wood.
Blunt told McHugh that the Army should consider that Fort Leonard Wood is in a rural environment, compared to many other bases, and its economy is much more dependent on the installation.
“With a fort like that, that is surrounded by national forest, which is a good thing in terms of training opportunities, but the impact of the economy at a place like that is much greater than a more urban economy,” Blunt said.
McHugh said that he enjoyed his trip to Fort Leonard Wood and that he felt “right at home.”
“The folks in and outside the gate were just great to us,” he said. “I felt right at home because I come from a highly rural part of America of a rural environment and it reminded me much like home.”
McHugh also said he was impressed with the amount of training facilities Fort Leonard Wood has, mentioning the Military Police School and Sapper Leader Course.
“What really impressed me was the range of training that occurs there and all kinds of great activities that will always be an important part of the Army,” he said. “We have made considerable investments in that facility. Those are the kinds of things we will consider very carefully as we make these hard decisions.”
McHugh said that the Army should be making decisions regarding cutbacks in the next month.
“Everyone should be aware that because of the Budget Control Act and sequestration, every camp, post, and station will feel some impact,” he said. “Our job is to make the best possible decisions both for the Army and the tax payer, but also for those bases that have stood tall and done great things, which Leonard Wood is certainly one.”