Local organizations, city governments, and individuals are asking for the public to submit comments in regards to the impact of Fort Leonard Wood on its surrounding areas.
The call-to-action is in response to the Army's Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) and draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FNSI) for Army force structure reductions and realignments that may occur through 2020 in order to reduce the size of the Army.
The Army plans to reduce the total number of forces from 562,000 at the end of fiscal year 2012 to 490,000 by fiscal year 2020 and also plans to realign its forces over the next few years.
The PEA is an analysis of the environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with potential adjustments to the Army at 21 installations, including Fort Leonard Wood.
According to information from Sustainable Ozarks, a partnership supporting Fort Leonard Wood and it surrounding areas, the reduction for Fort Leonard Wood would be up to 3,900 soldiers and Army civilians, which would be a loss of 41 percent of permanent staff.
The PEA analysis estimates a loss of 450 direct and 504 indirect jobs and also a loss of almost 3,700 students in the region (see break-out box).
The Waynesville- St. Robert Chamber of Commerce, the City of St. Robert, and the City of Waynesville are just a few of the many local organizations in the community encouraging locals to comment on the possible reduction of Fort Leonard Wood and are asking the public to emphasize the importance the installation has on our community in comments.
At Wednesday's Chamber meeting, President Mike Dunbar addressed the study and the rumors surrounding it.
“Fort Leonard Wood is not going to be closed,” he said.
“We are raising a call-to action because we want to be a growing installation. We want to bring more missions here. We have room to do that. The Army 2020 document is our way to provide public comment on the Army's future and what they say is going to happen by 2020.”
He also ensured everyone at the chamber meeting that the study has nothing to do with BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) or sequestration.
“You don't want to look back in two years and go “Why didn't I do more?' he said. “ This is our opportunity to say “our community supports Fort Leonard Wood, has more to offer then the installation, and wants to see us grow together.”
Dunbar said that other installations across the national have been asked for public comment as well.
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Locations that were included in the PEA analysis are sites that have “the potential to experience a change in soldiers and civilians that exceeds a total of plus or minus 1,000 military personnel,” according to a press release from the U.S. Army Environmental command.
Installations considered in the PEA include: Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Campbell, Ken.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Irwin, Calif.; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Fort Knox, Ken.; Fort Lee, Va.; Fort Leonard Wood; Fort Polk, La.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; US Army Garrison Hawaii; and US Army Garrison Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman also urged the public to submit their comments online and help the future of Fort Leonard Wood.
“Other military communities are responding in large numbers, we can too,” Hardman said. “We want to be gainers and not losers in this.”
To comment or see more information, visit www.SustainableOzarks.org/CallToAction. Letters may also be mailed to Public Comments USAEC Attn: IMPA-AE (Army 2020 PEA) 2450 Connell Road (Bldg 2264) Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664, or by email at USARMY.JBSA.AEC.MBX@mail.mil. All comments are due by March 21.