Army Drawdown Would Harm Local Economies, Review Finds
The Army’s plan to reduce its end strength and realign its forces over the coming years will not substantially affect the environment but will result in significant impacts to a variety of economic measures in communities neighboring 21 installations, according to an assessment of potential changes to the service’s force structure scheduled to occur by 2020.
Economic impacts could include reduced employment, income, regional population and sales, according to a Federal Register notice published Friday. The analysis evaluated the Army’s plan to trim its active duty end strength from 562,000 at the end of fiscal 2012 to 490,000 by FY 2020. It examined the potential impacts that could occur at posts expected to experience a gain or loss exceeding 1,000 military personnel.
The effort to rebalance the service’s force is expected to affect most major installations, according to Army Environmental Command. Possible changes include inactivating brigade combat teams and combat support and combat service support units at Army and joint base stationing locations.
Final decisions as to which installations will see reductions or unit realignments will be made over the next several years.
Sites considered in the analysis 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, Alaska; 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.; Army Garrison Hawaii; and Army Garrison Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
Fort Gordon, for example, could lose up to 4,300 service members under one scenario outlined, but a spokesman for the post emphasized that the realignments studied do not represent any final decisions.
“It’s important to note that these force structure and stationing decisions assessed in the programmatic environmental assessment have not yet been made, and those eventual decisions could include all, some or none of the reductions evaluated,” he told the Augusta Chronicle. “As such, we are unable to speculate about likely local impacts.”
The programmatic environmental assessment and draft Finding of No Significant Impact are available on the Army Environmental Command website.