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Public comment invited in Army’s force reduction plans

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More than 20 installations reviewed

By CATHY KROPP
USAEC
On Jan. 18, the Army announced the availability of the Programmatic Environmental Assessment and draft Finding of No Significant Impact for Army force structure reductions and realignments that may occur through 2020. The PEA evaluates and assesses the environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with potential adjustments to Army forces at 21 installations. The Army has completed the analysis to evaluate changes to its forces that are necessary to reduce spending while maintaining critical national defense capabilities.
The public is invited to review the documents, which are available online at http://aec.army.mil/usaec/nepa/topics00.html and provide their comments by email to USARMY.JBSA.AEC.MBX@mail.mil or they may mail them to:
Public Comments USAEC
Attn: IMPA-AE (Army 2020 PEA)
2450 Connell Road (Bldg 2264)
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664
The comment period, originally scheduled to end Feb. 19, has been extended until March 21, 2013.
The Army takes seriously its responsibilities to coordinate and consider public feedback on decisions that may impact the environment or the communities surrounding its installations. When the Army received requests for extensions from the public, state reviewing agencies and congressional members, the Army granted a 30-day extension.
This will allow the public and other stakeholders sufficient time to review and comment on the Army 2020 Programmatic Environmental Assessment, or PEA.
The Army’s proposed action evaluated in the PEA is to reduce the Army’s active duty end-strength from 562,000 at the end of fiscal year 2012 to 490,000 by fiscal year 2020. The PEA analyzes two primary alternatives: Alternative #1: Implement force reductions by inactivating a minimum of eight Brigade Combat Teams, known as BCTs, and realign other combat, combat support, and service support units between fiscal year 2013 and fiscal year 2020; and Alternative #2: Implement Alternative 1, inactivate additional BCTs, and reorganize remaining BCTs by adding an additional combat maneuver battalion and other units. The PEA also analyzes a No Action alternative, under which the Army would not reduce the size of the force.
Locations that were included in the PEA analysis are those sites that have the potential to experience a change in Soldiers and civilians that exceeds a total of plus or minus 1,000 military personnel. Installations considered in the PEA include: Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Irwin, Calif; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alask; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Lee, Va.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Polk, La.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii; and U.S. Army Garrison Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
The implementation of Army force realignment will occur over the course of several years to arrive at an optimally configured force in 2020. Reductions in Army Soldiers will also be accompanied by some reduction in civil service employees.
These actions are being undertaken to reshape the Army’s forces to meet more effective national security requirements while reducing the Army’s end-strength. Force realignment and some level of force reduction will impact most major Army installations. The implementation of this force rebalancing is necessary to allow the Army to operate in a reduced budget climate, while ensuring the Army can continue to support the nation’s critical defense missions.
Final decisions as to which alternative to implement and which installations will see reductions or unit realignments have not yet been made. Those decisions will be made based on mission-related criteria and other factors, in light of the information contained in the PEA.
In addition to environmental and socioeconomic impacts discussed in this PEA, the Army will also consider several non-environmental factors critical to a final force structure decision, such as operational require-ments and capabilities, cost, strategic and geographical distribution, investment and regeneration, facilities for Soldiers and family well-being.
All of the factors will be thoroughly evaluated. Some of the factors are more readily quantifiable, such as maneuver training land acreage, buildable acreage, cost, availability of barracks and Family Housing, etc. Others are more qualitative in nature (i.e., strategy, geographic distribution, reversibility).