Friday, July 10, 2015

Hartzler: Defense cuts have real life implications

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

This week the U.S. Army announced the results of its Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA), reducing active duty soldier end strength from 490,000 to 450,000—the smallest it has been since 1941—and cutting 774 uniformed personnel at Fort Leonard Wood by the end of fiscal year 2017.

The SPEA originally proposed cutting 5,400 jobs. Thanks to an enormous outpouring of support from the local community, alongside our Congressional delegation and state leaders, we were able to save over 4,600 jobs.

The fact that the Army cut only a fraction of the anticipated 5,400 not only speaks well of the community’s unyielding support; it also reinforces the fact that Fort Leonard Wood plays a vital role in our national defense and is an integral part of training and developing our soldiers. 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 solid footing as we look to future Army missions and decisions.

While the impact at Fort Leonard Wood was far less than originally projected, it still reminds us that the defense cuts brought on by sequestration have real-life implications and jeopardize our national security. I have fought time and again to reverse these devastating cuts, helping secure additional funding in this year's budget—but more needs to be done.

In fact, 30,000 additional troops are at risk of being cut from Army end strength in the near future if sequester is not reversed. It is imperative we stop the continued degradation of our military from sequestration by fully restoring funding.

I am committed to working to reverse these cuts and I look forward to continuing the partnership we have forged with the community and Fort Leonard Wood leaders to fight for this critical installation. It is time we get our priorities back as a nation. “Provide for the common defense” is not just a suggestion; it is our obligation.

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