The Army has announced 774 uniformed personnel will be cut from Fort Leonard Wood by 2017, but Missouri elected officials are saying the cuts could have been worse.
The cut is part of an announced reduction in active duty strength from 490,000 to 450,000. The impact on the Fort and other installations isn’t expected to be known until September.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) said the planned reduction confirms the importance of Fort Leonard Wood, with some other facilities targeted for deeper cuts.
“While I oppose any cuts to Fort Leonard Wood personnel, the limited and proportional reduction announced today reaffirms this fort’s core training mission and is a testament to the ongoing efforts by state, local, and federal leaders to protect this vital military asset and the thousands of dedicated men and women who serve there,” said Nixon in a statement.
In a joint statement, Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler echoed Nixon’s perception of the announcement.
“While budgetary constraints have forced the Army to make difficult decisions, today’s announcement confirms what Missourians already know: Fort Leonard Wood will continue to play a critical role in the training and development of our troops. Key criteria, including an abundance of maneuver and training areas, the absence of encroachment concerns, optimal geographic location, and plenty of community support give Fort Leonard Wood a significant leg up over other installations for future Army missions,” their statement said.
McCaskill, in her own statement, warns more cuts could be coming, and she blames Republicans budget caps that she says will cause a further reduction to 420,000 soldiers. She and Democrats accuse Republicans of budget “gimmicks” by putting money for foreign wars in another account that won’t allow the branches to maintain the size of their forces.