Landrieu: Fort Polk to retain troop strength, brigade combat tea - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Officials: Fort Polk to retain troop strength, brigade combat team

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FORT POLK, LA (KPLC) -

Fort Polk will only lose around 240 troops over the next four years and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division will remain at the Vernon Parish installation.

That's according to Fort Polk officials and lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

An Army study had looked at a troop cut of up to 5,300 soldiers at the post.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said nationally, bases will see a reduction of 80,000 troops over the next four years.

Landrieu, in the release, credited the community's commitment and hard work to build "one of the country's finest military installations and mobilize support for the base when more reductions were possible."

"Today, the hard work of the Central Louisiana community has paid off - together we have kept Fort Polk strong. Years ago, our community and local businesses joined together to start Fort Polk Progress and move this installation forward. I have been proud to partner with them to transform this region into a great place for the Army to stay and grow, and where soldiers and their families have a high quality of life. Because of this work, and the unwavering commitment of the Central Louisiana community, the Army has recognized the strategic importance of Fort Polk. I'm very proud of our successful work together and I will continue fighting to not just keep Fort Polk strong and intact, but to keep it growing," Landrieu said in the release.

Congressman John Fleming, R-La., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., also jointly released a statement on the decision.

"The troops at Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center are vital and contribute enormously to our national security," said Fleming. "I contacted the Secretary of the Army about the importance of Fort Polk when I was first alerted that force restructuring could reduce its troops by more than 5,000. The communities around Fort Polk rallied in memorable fashion and together we convinced the Army of Fort Polk's full array of resources. Restructuring will only entail a reduction of less than 250 troops. It's clear that our concerted message of support was heard. Nationwide, the Army is reducing its uniformed personnel by 14%, but at Fort Polk that will be about three percent. In this day of greatly reduced defense budgets, this is clearly a strong sign of Fort Polk's importance and the value of teamwork in demonstrating it. I will continue to make the case for increasing that investment at every opportunity I have."

"The Army's announcement today shows how important Fork Polk is and how it will continue to be among the premier training grounds shaping our nation's military forces," said Vitter. "Fort Polk's forces and the Joint Readiness Training Center are huge priorities both for our national security and for communities throughout Louisiana, and making sure that our troops at Fort Polk have the support they need will remain among my top priorities on the Armed Services Committee. The announcement today and confirmation I received from the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General John Campbell, make it clear that Fort Polk forces and the community involvement shown during the Army Listening session are incredibly important and will continue to play a vital role within the Department of Defense moving forward."

We'll have more on later editions. 

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

The following is a news release from Fort Polk Public Affairs on the force structure decision:

The Army announced today its force structure and stationing decisions associated with the active component end-strength reduction of 80,000 Soldiers to 490,000 -- a 14 percent reduction across the force -- by 2017.

As part of the drawdown, the Army is reducing its active component brigade combat teams (BCTs) from 45 to 33, however, the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk is not among the installations affected by the brigade combat team reduction.  The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division remains at Fort Polk. The Army is inactivating and reorganizing BCTs at other installations nationwide and in Europe as well as reducing and reorganizing numerous non-BCT units - many commonly referred to as BCT enablers - as part of the end strength reduction.

The dedication and commitment of the surrounding communities during the force structure process has been overwhelming, said Brig. Gen. William B. Hickman, commanding general of the JRTC and Fort Polk. "I thank all of you for your support. You've been unique among Army installations in voicing your concerns and expressing your caring for our Soldiers and families. We make a great team, and I look forward to continuing that partnership," Hickman said.

Reductions in the force are consistent with fiscal constraints resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011 and Defense Planning Guidance issues in 2012, but do not reflect additional reductions that will be required if sequestration-driven funding reductions remain unmitigated. The key to the drawdown is to maintain the balance between end-strength, readiness and modernization so that the Army is properly sized and ready for whatever the country needs, said Army officials.

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