Briefing to address Army assessment of troop reduction at Fort P - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Officials urge residents to speak out against Fort Polk force reduction

Soldiers training at Fort Polk (Source: Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System) Soldiers training at Fort Polk (Source: Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System)
People gathered in Leesville for the briefing (KPLC) People gathered in Leesville for the briefing (KPLC)
LEESVILLE, LA (KPLC) -

Leesville-area civic leaders briefed the public and the media Thursday about the recent Army assessment of troop reduction at Fort Polk.

Leesville city officials and Vernon Parish Police Jurors spoke. There was also commentary from Fort Polk Progress, a community planning and development group.

Officials addressed a recent assessment by the Department of the Army concerning a possible troop reduction of approximately 5,300 soldiers and Army civilians at Fort Polk. Not included in that figure are contractors, support personnel and dependents.

The PEA indicates that a total of 6,208 jobs would be lost if a force reduction of 5,300 soldiers is enacted by the Department of the Army, officials said.

The assessment is included in the Department of the Army's Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) and draft Finding of No Significant Impact for Army force structure reductions and realignments.

The reductions could occur from Fiscal Years 2013-2020.

Officials on Thursday said the PEA, where Fort Polk is concerned, contains "false and erroneous information."

Leesville Mayor Robert Rose said it is imperative for the Army to get the information correct before proceeding with any decision-making.

"The stakes are simply too high. It would be tragic if the Department of the Army decides to not only reduce the footprint of Fort Polk but put thousands of people out of work based on information that is flat-out wrong," Rose said.

Vernon Parish Police Jury President Jim Tuck said, "A troop reduction would have a devastating economic impact to the local community and a significant negative impact on the entire region and the state as a whole. After all, Fort Polk is the largest economic engine of the state of Louisiana and the largest employer of the state of Louisiana."

Officials urged residents to take advantage of the commenting period on the PEA, which ends Tuesday, Feb. 19 and to urge the Department of the Army to get the information correct, extend the deadline for commenting 30 more days, and refrain from reducing the troops at Fort Polk.

To comment on the Army 2020 PEA, written comments should be sent to:

Public Comments USAEC
Attention: IMPA–AE (Army 2020 PEA)
2450 Connell Road (Bldg 2264)
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234–7664
or by e-mail to
USARMY.JBSA.AEC.MBX@mail.mil

The assessment, however, also addresses growth opportunities at installations.

"Alternatives considered in the PEA evaluate the largest growth potential scenarios at installations that may occur from BCT (Brigade Combat Team) restructuring, as well as the greatest force reduction scenarios that could occur as a result of Army force drawdown," Army officials said in a recent release.

Fort Polk Progress recently released commentary about the Army's study. Officials said an alternative eyed by military officials could add 1,000 soldiers to existing personnel.

Fort Polk is the home of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division and the Joint Readiness Training Center.

KPLC's Theresa Schmidt will have more on the briefing on later editions.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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