A recent study by the U.S. Army estimates that Fort Leonard Wood could lose up to 5,400 civilian and military positions by 2020. These cuts would be in addition to the 1,200 positions that will be eliminated from the post by 2015.
FORT LEONARD WOOD —A recent study by the U.S. Army estimates that Fort Leonard Wood could lose up to 5,400 civilian and military positions by 2020. These cuts would be in addition to the 1,200 positions that will be eliminated from the post by 2015.
Similar to the 2013 Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA), the U.S. Army is asking for public feedback on the 2014 Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) by Aug. 25.
The SPEA analyzes the socioeconomic impact of possible future cuts at Army installations, including Fort Leonard Wood.
Sustainable Ozarks Partnership (SOP), a non-profit organization that advocates for the growth and support of Fort Leonard Wood, is strongly encouraging the local community to respond to the SPEA.
“We know cuts are coming, but we are also continuing to advocate for new missions and to find ways to show the Army that Fort Leonard Wood is the best place to continue to train the warfighter and to do business,” said Joe Driskill, SOP executive director.
In 2012, the U.S. Army set plans to reduce its forces from 562,000 soldiers to 490,000 soldiers by fiscal year 2020. As a part of this, the 2013 SPEA looked at 21 different bases, including Fort Leonard Wood, for potential adjustments.
In March, 2013, the SPEA showed that eliminating up to 3,900 civilian and military jobs on Fort Leonard Wood would have no significant impact on the region, and called for public comment on the matter.
More than 1,000 people filled Nutter Field House in April 2013 to encourage the Army to reconsider its findings and to urge that this region wants to support the growth of Fort Leonard Wood, not its reduction.
SOP reported that 2,300 responses were written to the Army’s call for public comment on its force reduction plans in the Fort Leonard Wood area.
As a result of the strong responses to the study, the U.S. Army changed its plans to cut 1,200 positions from Fort Leonard Wood, instead of 3,900.
“The overwhelming attendance by the public and SOP’s briefing at the listening session last year had a positive impact on the Army’s decision,” Driskill said.
In June 2013, the U.S. Army announced that current budgetary projects are forcing additional job cuts.
The U.S. Army now plans to reduce its forces to 420,000 soldiers, assessing the reduction of an additional 70,000 soldiers by 2020. Nearly all Army installations will be affected in some way by additional reductions.
This could mean that in 2020, only 3,761 permanent party soldier and Army civilian positions would be left on Fort Leonard Wood. In 2011, 9,161 permanent party soldier and Army civilians were on the post.
The SOP has spent the past two years focusing on sustainability projects that specifically appeal to the Army and showcase the region’s strengths.
The SOP will be urging citizens to contact the Army in support of Fort Leonard Wood during the current public comment period regarding the SPEA findings and will provide a briefing at the Army-sponsored, public listening session when it occurs in the near future.
“It is imperative that community members voice their support for the Fort Leonard Wood mission. We will be urging the community to participate in large numbers when the Army hosts such a session in the near future,” said Driskill.
Public comments can be submitted directly to the Army using the SOP website: www.sustainableozarks.org. The official Army address for public comments and example letters pertaining to Fort Leonard Wood can also be found on the SOP website. Community members can also send email comments directly to the Army using the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.