Missouri’s top elected officials, more than a third of its state legislature, and some 2,000 Missourians turned out at Fort Leonard Wood Monday night to urge the Army not to cut up to 5,400 military and civilian jobs there by 2020.
“Hard to match this anywhere else,” U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R) told the assembled. “The support for this facility in the community is truly second to none anywhere in the country.”
Blunt said the Fort is the 5th largest employer in the state with more than 36,000 direct and indirect jobs, and presents a unique set of efficiencies.
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed.
“This is the least expensive in direct costs for training for any of the facilities in the country, so if we’re trying to save money, why in the world would we diminish this facility? We should be adding to this facility, not diminishing it, because it is so cost-effective for the Army.”
The proposed cuts are part of a reduction of about 70,000 jobs across the Army.
U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler, who sits on the House Armed Service Committee, says work continues in Congress to find money to reduce those cuts, but argued that regardless, Fort Leonard Wood should be spared.
“Here, every mission and every [person] serving at Fort Leonard Wood is vital, is needed, and needs to stay,” said Hartzler.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) said Missouri is a military-friendly state offering “unique competitiveness and advantages.”
“Our central location, our low energy costs, our robust and diversified transportation system, quality schools,” Nixon cited, as well as state programs to support military members including the Show-Me Heroes program that promotes the hiring of veterans.
The Fort will already lose about 1,200 jobs by October under a proposal that two years ago would originally have cost it 3,900 jobs.
A decision on additional cuts is expected later this year.