Fort Leonard Wood announces cuts, lawmakers react

2 years 5 months 1 week ago Thursday, July 09 2015 Jul 9, 2015 Thursday, July 09, 2015 11:31:00 AM CDT July 09, 2015 in News
By: James Packard, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

FORT LEONARD WOOD - Several elected leaders and organizations were responding Thursday after the U.S. Army announced it would cut 774 uniformed personnel at Fort Leonard Wood by the end of fiscal year 2017.

The reaction comes with the Army's announcement of the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) results, and plans to reduce active duty soldiers to 490,000 from 450,000 by the end of fiscal year 2017. 774 of that total reduction would happen at Fort Leonard Wood.

According to the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership, which facilitated an effort to fight the cuts, the SPEA originally called for Fort Leonard Wood to cut up to 5,400 positions. The group said a total uniformed personnel of 450,000 would reduce the Army to its smallest size since the United States entered World War II in 1940.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Rep. Vicki Hartzler (R) said in a joint statement, "While budgetary constraints have forced the Army to make difficult decisions, today's announcement confirms what Missourians already know: Fort Leonard Wood will continue to play a critical role in the training and development of our troops. Key criteria, including an abundance of maneuver and training areas, the absence of encroachment concerns, optimal geographic location, and plenty of community support give Fort Leonard Wood a significant leg up over other installations for future Army missions."

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander struck a different tone regarding the cuts Thursday. He said in a statement, "As someone who served at Fort Leonard Wood, I'm deeply disappointed by the Army's decision to cut the number of soldiers at the base. The men and women that serve at Fort Leonard Wood provide unequaled expertise that makes our military operations more effective and efficient across the country. It is well known that the Pentagon has been considering making personnel cuts to the base, which made Senator Roy Blunt's decision to voluntarily leave the Senate Armed Services Committee this year so he could chair the Senate Rules and Administration Committee even more confounding. When the soldiers and civilian personnel at Fort Leonard Wood needed him most, Senator Blunt left his post so he could chair the insider committee that gives out office space. Senator Blunt owes the men and women who serve at Fort Leonard Wood, as well as the residents of the surrounding area, an explanation."

Kander is a former Army captain who served at Fort Leonard Wood from 2007-2011.

A spokesman for Blunt disputed the statement, saying the senator had served on the Rules and Administration Committee since arriving in the senate.

Gov. Jay Nixon said Thursday, "While I oppose any cuts to Fort Leonard Wood personnel, the limited and proportional reduction announced today reaffirms this fort's core training mission and is a testament to the ongoing efforts by state, local and federal leaders to protect this vital military asset and the thousands of dedicated men and women who serve there. My administration will continue to work with our military and civilian partners to ensure Fort Leonard Wood retains its crucial role now and in the future."

Last month, Gov. Nixon signed into law a bill establishing the Office of Military Advocate within the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Nixon's office said the office would advocate for military services and the preservation of military bases in Missouri.

Fort Leonard Wood said Thursday the overall reduction of 40,000 soldiers would occur in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The fort also said the cuts contribute to a cumulative cut of 120,000 Soldiers from the Regular Army, or a 21 percent reduction, since 2012.

The fort said in a news release, "The Army was directed to make reductions, and did so in a strategically considered approach to preserve war-fighting capability and avoid a hollow force as the Army faces continuing fiscal pressures."

Officials said this spring, more than 2,000 Missourians, including local leaders, state and congressional delegations, soldiers and family members, attended the Army's SPEA listening session at the fort, to gather more information about the cuts. It was the second-largest recorded attendance in the country, they said.

"The announced reductions to active duty personnel, while significant, are lower than the cuts at many other Army posts across the nation and lower than the level of cuts Fort Leonard Wood experienced in 2013. This is a challenging announcement for the Fort Leonard Wood community, but we remain committed in our support for the fort along with its brave soldiers, families and civilians stationed there," said McCaskill, Hartzler and Blunt.

Dr. Brian Henry, President of Sustainable Ozarks Partnership (SOP), said, "While it is true that Fort Leonard Wood will see reductions that will hurt the region and state, it is important to note that many other installations fared considerably worse, in some cases losing thousands of uniformed positions. We believe that the announcement of a smaller number than originally estimated demonstrates the Army's understanding of the importance of the enduring value of the core training mission at Fort Leonard Wood."

SOP said 4,900 Fort Leonard Wood supporters sent written comments to the Army in August 2014, opposing any cuts. SOP also set up a petition on its website opposing the cuts. The organization allowed citizens to sign electronically and leave comments about the cuts. 

Joe Driskill, Sustainable Ozarks Partnership Executive Director, said, "We feel that we made a great case through the public comment period and the listening session as to why Fort Leonard Wood is a great place for the Army to do business. We believe that we showcased the installation's strengths, such as modern, flexible training areas and ranges that could accommodate expansion, zero encroachment issues, newly built and updated training facilities and barracks, and the abundance of natural resources that are necessary to accommodate current and new missions. We are not happy that the Army has to make cuts at all, but to lose far fewer jobs than originally estimated makes this bitter pill a little easier to swallow."

The fort's public affairs office said if current sequestration is not addressed, "End-strength will be further reduced to 420,000 Soldiers by fiscal year 2019... The resulting force would be incapable of simultaneously meeting current deployment requirements and responding to the overseas contingency requirements of the combatant commands."

Along with the military cuts, Fort Leonard Wood said the Army announced a reduction of 17,000 civilians in the Department of the Army. Fort Leonard Wood said Thursday the impact of the civilian cuts on the fort and other installations wouldn't be known until September, pending results of an on-going analysis on the effects of those civilian reductions.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the latest information and the headline has been changed to better reflect the story's content.]

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA – Graduation day is long awaited by many and Amy Kiso Bledsoe is no exception. Bledsoe was... More >>
18 minutes ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 2:47:00 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — As Missouri struggles with the epidemic of opioid abuse, no place in the state has been... More >>
1 hour ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 1:10:14 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A furnace malfunction caused a fire in a trailer home on Pratherville Road Saturday morning. Gale... More >>
2 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 12:05:48 PM CST December 16, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — People returning to Kansas City after being released from prison will get a 90-day supply... More >>
3 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 11:25:12 AM CST December 16, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - Firefighters responded to a shed fire off of Highway 40 near Rocheport Saturday morning. Boone County... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 10:04:00 AM CST December 16, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials with the University of Missouri-Kansas City say students will soon have access to state-of-the-art... More >>
6 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 8:16:45 AM CST December 16, 2017 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - Cat cafes have popped up across the world in cities including New York City, London and Tokyo, and... More >>
7 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 7:36:00 AM CST December 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Some Jefferson City kids are getting the chance at a Merry Christmas this year with the help... More >>
15 hours ago Saturday, December 16 2017 Dec 16, 2017 Saturday, December 16, 2017 12:00:00 AM CST December 16, 2017 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol has confirmed it has fired Trooper Anthony Piercy. KOMU 8 spoke to... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 8:42:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - St. Louis officers arrested a suspect that was on the run in a duplex on Sears Court in... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 8:29:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The application for the top education position in the state, Missouri State Education Board Commissioner, opened Friday leaving... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 8:02:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
BLUE SPRINGS (AP) — A commercial real estate records company based in suburban Kansas City has abruptly shut down, leaving... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 7:42:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Fire Department say a house fire that killed a cat Friday afternoon started in the kitchen.... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 7:29:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - For the past six years Ryan Shultz, the creator/owner of the Candy Cane Crib, has shared a well-lit... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 7:17:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said around half of adults in the U.S. struggle with understanding... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 6:00:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in Continuous News
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Blue Springs, Missouri, man has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping a sheriff's deputy... More >>
22 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 4:51:08 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ten people are facing federal indictment in a $5.4 million methamphetamine distribution conspiracy. ... More >>
22 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 4:07:15 PM CST December 15, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Several new businesses will open in Columbia at the start of the new year. Wheely's Cafe, a... More >>
23 hours ago Friday, December 15 2017 Dec 15, 2017 Friday, December 15, 2017 3:49:00 PM CST December 15, 2017 in Continuous News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 62°
4pm 60°
5pm 56°
6pm 51°
7pm 48°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

1:30p
2018 Winter Olympic Trials
3:00p
PGA Tour Golf
5:00p
Jeopardy!
2:00p
Rookie Blue
3:00p
Elementary
4:00p
Elementary

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Will & Grace
7:30p
Superstore
8:00p
Dateline NBC
9:00p
Saturday Night Live
7:00p
Family Guy
7:30p
Family Guy
8:00p
Bob's Burgers
8:30p
Bob's Burgers
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld