Sen. Roy Blunt visited St. Robert this week to update the community on recent government issues concerning the area. Blunt primarily discussed spending cuts in Washington and their relation to the Fort Leonard Wood area.
Blunt said he thinks the number one priority of the country is defense and that the recent civilian employee furloughs were unnecessary.
“I don't like the idea that the civilian employees of the Defense Department are being treated differently than the uniformed employees,” he said. “ I understand why it was easy to exempt and not penalize the people who have fought for our country, but wasn't thought out was penalizing the civilian employees who are working right beside them.”
“It didn't have to be this way,” he said. “We have to get spending under control.”
Blunt said that he believes sequestration took place to show that government spending matters.
“It's pretty clear that the administration wants cutting spending to be as painful as possible to get people's attention.”
As a member of the the Defense Appropriating Committee and the Defense Committee, Blunt addressed the community on the future of Fort Leonard Wood, saying it “competes incredibly well” compared to other bases across the country with its variety of specialty schools, large basic training facility, and amount of land for possible future expansion.
“There is really no other place quite like it. This is a great location,” he said. “I think it's clear from the past 20 years that the Defense Department recognizes that,” he said. “If you ever think that I am not at the top of the list of advocators for Fort Leonard Wood, please tap me on the shoulder.”
Blunt was asked about the future of Fort Leonard Wood and the recent Army 2020 projections, that said the Army would reduce the amount of full-time employees on the base by 41 percent by 2020.
“According to our projections, the intake number of basic trainees will be the same, while training for more advanced military skills at Fort Leonard Wood would be lessened as the fort is rightly sized,” said Blunt.
Blunt said he doesn't know just how much Fort Leonard Wood will be downsized by, but in the next couple weeks, they would have a better idea. He also said that they were able to find parts of the defense budget that reflected more involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan from four to five years ago they were able to update.
“Last week, we updated the Defense Appropriations Bill to what we believe they now need,” he said. “We put $9 billion back into the Defense Department to cover training costs.”