The U.S. Army announced Tuesday it will eliminate 885 positions at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri as part of its plan to restructure its bases in the U.S.
The Army says it was necessary to reduce its numbers by 80,000 active duty members over the next four years because of sequestration cuts. The plan is to bring its number of active duty personnel down to 490,000 by 2017.
The Army says the reductions at Fort Leonard wood will come through the “inactivation of an Engineer Battalion HQ, two Horizontal Construction Companies, a BSB Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and a Vertical Construction Company.”
This is a smaller reduction for Fort Leonard Wood than was expected. In January, a report estimated the reduction of 3,900 positions at the base. Hundreds of people turned out to a meeting at Fort Leonard Wood in May to discuss the implications of the reduction.
Governor Jay Nixon’s office had a positive reaction to the result, issuing a press release Tuesday with the headline that the “Pentagon study confirms Fort Leonard Wood (is) crucial to Army’s future.” The press release said that after the cuts go completely into effect, the proportion of uniformed personnel at Fort Leonard Wood compared to the entire force of the Army will stay the same as it is currently. The Army says in Fiscal Year 2011, there were 27,213 Army members at Fort Leonard Wood.
Missouri’s U.S. Senators, Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt, issued a rare joint press release in response to the announcement. They called the reduction “modest,” saying:
“Fort Leonard Wood is integral to the national security of the United States and the lifeblood of surrounding communities—which is why we have worked together in our roles on the Senate Armed Services Committee to ensure its continued operations. The announced reductions, while significant, could have been far worse, putting our military readiness in jeopardy. We’ll continue our strong bipartisan advocacy of Fort Leonard Wood in the future to ensure that its importance to our national security is acknowledged and protected.”
Fort Leonard Wood is in U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler's district. She also issued a statement about the announcement.
“I am pleased that the Army has listened to the thousands of community members who expressed concerns over drastic Army Solider and civilian reductions at Fort Leonard Wood. It was a true community effort and I am proud to have personally advocated on behalf of a thriving installation that is a premier Army asset, which remains economically crucial to this region and to our state. While any reduction in personnel is never easy to accept, I am pleased that the Army has made a prudent decision to lessen the initial extreme cuts to a more modest decrease. Fort Leonard Wood is a proven and valued Army investment that must remain staffed at a high level to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”