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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Fort Leonard Wood to face 885 job cuts

  • Fort Leonard Wood should see modest force reductions in the next few years, according to U.S Army officials.
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  • Fort Leonard Wood should see modest force reductions in the next few years, according to U.S Army officials.
    The U.S. Army on Tuesday announced its plans to reduce and restructure its forces as part of a $487 billion reduction in Department of Defense funding, based on the Budget Control Act of 2011.
    The Army plans to reduce its forces by 80,000 soldiers by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    As a part of its reduction and restructuring plan, the Army is reorganizing Brigade Combat Teams (BCT), which will reduce the overall number of headquarters while sustaining as much combat capabilities as possible.
    While Fort Leonard Wood was not on the list of inactivating any of its BCTs, which would result in major cutbacks on the base, it is expected to lose 885 jobs, according to Gov. Jay Nixon's office.
    "The cut of 885 personnel at Fort Leonard Wood will result in the inactivation of an Engineer Battalion Headquarters, two Horizontal Construction Companies, a Brigade Support Battalion, and a Vertical Construction Company," the press release from Nixon's office said. "This reduction will be phased in over the next four years."
    According to the press release, the proportion of uniformed personnel at Fort Leonard Wood relative to the total Army will remain exactly the same.
    Originally in January 2013, the Army projected it would reduce 3,900 jobs from Fort Leonard Wood.
    Joe Driskill, executive director of the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership, a newly organized group working on regional strategies to help ensure the Army's long-term success at Fort Leonard Wood, said that the news Tuesday came as a relief to many Fort Leonard Wood business and community leaders.
    "While we would have preferred no reductions at Fort Leonard Wood, we welcome the Army's decision to largely spare the installation from the difficult cuts it is making around the country," Driskill said. "We are somewhat relieved by the announcement, but the plan will still cause about 885 soldiers and civilian Army employees, or about 9 percent of the Fort's permanent party, to either lose their jobs or be transferred to other installations."
    Driskill credits the community's support during the Fort Leonard Wood Listening Session in April made a great impact on the decision. More than 1,000 people attended to urge the Army not to cut jobs at the installation.
    Driskill also said more cuts will be expected.
    "Using the Army's own economic analysis, we expect an additional 200 jobs will be lost in the region because of the impact of reduced Army spending and employment. These cuts will hurt, but they could have been much worse."
    According to U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army will inactivate a total of 12 BCTs, 10 of which will be in the United States. Those installations that will lose BCTs include Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
    Page 2 of 2 - "In the future we will announce an additional BCT to be inactivated, which will bring the number of BCTs to 32." Odierno said.
    Odierno emphasized that these cuts are not related to sequestration.

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