Public comment ends Thursday on Fort Polk realignment study - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Public comment ends Thursday on Fort Polk realignment study

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FORT POLK, LA (KPLC) -

The deadline for public comment on the recent Department of the Army assessment that looks at troop reductions at Fort Polk is Thursday.

The study outlines force structure reductions and realignments that may occur on U.S. Army bases before 2020. It is included in the Army's "Programmatic Environmental Assessment," known as "PEA," and draft "Finding of No Significant Impact."

Army officials have said that the PEA "evaluates and assesses the environmental impacts of potential adjustments to Army forces at 21 installations." Officials said the sites were chosen because they could experience a change in soldiers and civilians that exceeds a total of "plus or minus 1,000 military personnel."

The is eyeing the reduction of active duty end-strength from 562,000 at the end of Fiscal Year 2012 to 490,000 by Fiscal Year 2020.

Rep. James K. Armes, D-Leesville, said it is important for Louisiana residents to provide input on the study. Some area officials have said that it includes incorrect data about Fort Polk and the surrounding areas.

"Everyone in the state who cares about the economy of Louisiana should comment," Armes said. "Reductions would be devastating to the part of the state we live in, but really, for everyone."

Armes is a member of the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. He said members met Tuesday and received an update from Fort Polk Progress on the matter.

"A lot of people, in the southern part of the state, did not even know what was going on," he said.

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., released a statement on Thursday about Fort Polk's significance and proposed cuts.

"As the state of Louisiana's largest employer, Fort Polk's economic impact surpasses $1.5 billion each year. Rather than making indiscriminate cuts, I feel our military would be best served by looking at reductions of specific programs," he said.

An electronic version of the PEA and draft FNSI is available for download at: http://aec.army.mil/usaec/nepa/topics00.html.

Officials said comments or questions on the PEA should be submitted to: Public Comments USAEC, Attn: IMPA-AE (Army 2020 PEA), 2450 Connell Road (Bldg 2264), Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664, or emailed to: USARMY.JBSA.AEC.MBX@mail.mil.

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