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Army communities getting first look at how drawdown could unfold in their backyards

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Jan. 23, 2013 at 11:41 am |
January 23, 2013 11:41 am

The Army study that lays out one path for the service to reduce its ranks over the next seven years is rippling out among military communities all over the world, conveying a message that the Army is serious about looming cuts.

The News Tribune published a story on the proposal Saturday, highlighting a scenario that could trim the number of active-duty soldiers at Joint-Base Lewis-McChord by 8,000.

That would mean a loss of some 20,000 residents from Pierce and Thurston counties, and another 10,100 jobs from the region. I have not seen reports on possible cuts to Air Force, Reserves or Special Operations Forces that are also stationed at Lewis-McChord.

In North Carolina, leaders are urging caution about potential cuts to Fort Bragg. It’s the Army’s largest installation, and some in that community believed it would be immune to major cuts.

“I think we should all pray,” Fayetteville, N.C., Mayor Tony Chavonne told the Fayetteville Observer on Sunday.

Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division, likewise is trying to make sense of the report. It is one installation that could grow as the Army realigns forces, The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle notes.  Lewis-McChord, Fort Bragg and Fort Benning in Georgia do not have the space to accommodate more units, according to the Army report.

Fort Benning appears to have an idea about which of its brigades it could lose as the Army moves forward on plans to cuts its overall strength from 562,000 to 490,000 by 2020.

Several of these communities had believed they might make it through the Army’s force reduction without losing many local jobs. The report, called the Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment, demonstrates that each has something to lose as the Army carries out its postwar drawdown.

Here’s a link to the report. The Army is accepting public comments on the proposal through Feb. 17.

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