Missouri Military leaders gathered in Columbia today to discuss the current and future landscape of the armed forces in the state, as the federal government plans to make cuts to defense spending. One of the main messages from panelists: that different stakeholders in that state must work together toward creating a “military friendly” environment in the state.
“It’s gonna have to be a team effort going forward. It can’t just be a Fort Leonard Word effort, it can’t just be a Whiteman effort, it can’t just be a Rosecran effort, it can’t just be a Jefferson Barracks effort. It has to be a statewide effort… It’s bigger than any just one location anymore,” said Mike Dunbar with the Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement commission. Dunbar was one of the panelists at the forum.
U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler hosted the event, which brought together representatives from the military and the communities in Missouri that surround the military bases in the state, to discuss the impact of a possible Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
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.
On Friday, the Columbia Regional Airport received notice that its control tower was among 149 around the country[PDF] that would close as a result of federal sequestration cuts. The closure is expected to take place at some point between April 7 and May 7.
Administrators at local and regional agencies that aid low-income Missourians say they are keeping an eye on the impact of the sequester, or across-the-board federal spending cuts, and they fear the cuts could negatively impact their agencies.
While many questions about the impact of sequestration rollout remain, Missouri's Community Action Agencies are expecting an all-around 5 percent budget cut due to the federal sequestration. This could mean serious cutbacks to several services provided by the agency.
Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri said she's planning to introduce a bill that would cut pay for members of Congress if federal employees are furloughed because of the so-called “sequestration,” or across-the-board spending cuts.
The bill calls for a reduction in Congressional salaries once federal furloughs begin. As the sequestration goes into effect, many federal workers are expected to be subject to furloughs because Congress and the White House did not reach an agreement on a deficit reduction plan.