Fleming, Landrieu discuss proposed Fort Polk cuts

By By John Guidroz / American Press

U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Shreveport, said Friday that President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats should “reform entitlement

mandatory spending programs” to prevent possible cuts to more than 20 military installations, including Fort Polk.

Fort Polk officials and local residents

heard Thursday about a Department of the Army report on troop

reductions and realignments.

The force reductions at Fort Polk could include 5,300 soldiers and

civilians by the year 2020.

Fleming said he voted against the Budget Control Act for 2011 because it generated sequestration — a series of cuts in nearly

all areas of federal spending that will happen March 1, if Congress and Obama do not take action.

“I felt holding the military hostage was a bad idea,” he said. “We’re looking at the president to take leadership on this.”

Fleming asked Army Chief of Staff Gen.

Raymond Odierno on Wednesday about how sequestration would affect

military installations.

He said Odierno could not give specifics, but heard that the cuts

“would not be obvious at first, but would become more severe

over time.”

An alternative plan listed in the report calls for adding 1,000 soldiers to Fort Polk by the year 2020. The report also includes

a “No Action Alternative,” where the Army would retain its 562,000 active-duty soldiers, the total at the end of the 2012

fiscal year.

Because Fort Polk is expected to grow

by 100,000 acres, Fleming said he suggested permanently locating the

rotating brigades

that come to the Joint Readiness Training Center. Odierno said it

is too soon to consider that option since the Army is working

to reduce “80,000 (active duty) soldiers.”

The comment period on the plan was

recently extended from Feb. 19 to March 21. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu,

D-La., said in an

email that she requested the extension because she was “deeply

concerned about the Army’s initial findings on Fort Polk and

the surrounding communities.”

“I urge all members of our community to use this opportunity to make their voices heard about the importance of Fort Polk

and the brave soldiers and families that serve our country,” she said.

According to a news release, Leesville

Mayor Robert Rose said the extension was “appropriate given the gross

number of misrepresentations

about Fort Polk” in the report. Rose said he and other officials

discovered that some of the information in the report was

several years old, contained errors and was incomplete.

Other installations considered in the report: Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Hood, Texas; Joint

Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Army Garrison Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Comments can be emailed to USARMY.JBSA.AEC.MBX@mail.mil.

Online: www.aec.army.mil/usaec/nepa/topics00.html.