Fort Polk Progress calls dual press conferences in response to 2014 Army SPEA

DERIDDER-Fort Polk Progress has announced a second press conference at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday July 8, 2014 at the War Memorial Civic Center, 250 W 7th Street in response to the 2014 Army SPEA.

The DeRidder event will present the same information as the event scheduled in Leesville for tomorrow, 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 2. Media wishing to attend either event should contact Tammy Sharp at tammy@fortpolkprogress.com.

On June 26, the Department of the Army released its Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) for Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment and Draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FNSI).

The SPEA builds on the foundation of the 2013 Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) and assesses the impacts of a potential reduction of an additional 70,000 soldiers and associated reductions in Army civilians, down to an Active Component end-strength of 420,000 soldiers. According to the Department of the Army, these reductions are necessary to achieve the savings required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The SPEA analyzes the impact of force reductions at a total of 30 installations, including Fort Polk.

Fort Polk is facing a possible reduction in force of 6,500 troops. The Army will again conduct a commenting period, which will last until August 25, and also hold listening sessions at affected communities. The press conferences on July 2 and July 8 will outline the SPEA; provide comments on what incorrect information may be included in the SPEA; and share Fort Polk Progress's plan to address not only issues involving the SPEA, but also how the public can help throughout the commenting period and at the listening session. "Maintaining troop strength at Fort Polk is going to be an annual battle," said DeRidder Mayor Ron Roberts. "Polk Progress is our best resource for getting the job done."

"The responses during last year's commenting period and listening session were phenomenal," said Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese. "As a result, last year's drawdown minimally impacted Fort Polk. Because of the significant cuts being considered at other military bases across the country, we'll have to respond with even more force than we did last year.

"I know that we can depend on our Congressional Delegation, Louisiana government and communities from all over Louisiana and East Texas to come together again to show the Army that not only do we provide them the best value for training our soldiers to fight on the world stage, but that we will not be deterred from our mission of becoming a station of choice for soldiers and their families." Last year, more than 4,000 comments were submitted to the Department of the Army concerning possible troop reductions at Fort Polk. On April 15, 2013, thousands more people showed up from all over Louisiana and East Texas to express their support of sustaining and growing Fort Polk. In fact, more people responded concerning Fort Polk than those concerning any of the 20 other bases combined undergoing the same scrutiny by the Department of the Army, a fact that was not lost on Army decision makers, Pentagon officials and communities all over the country where other bases facing similar threats to force structure are located. Fort Polk Progress has known all along that another round of troop reductions was inevitable, given the current budget environment, and has been proactively planning its response for months, from creating the Education Initiative, which shows the Army just how engaged the local communities are in providing valuable quality of life enhancements for soldiers; to keeping our Congressional Delegation in Washington informed and active in countering force structure decisions; to engaging the Louisiana legislature for funding to help cover the costs of efforts to keep the military a strong economic force throughout the state.

Now, Fort Polk Progress is again asking the community to show its support of maintaining and growing force structure at Fort Polk. "There's more involvement than ever before from throughout the region and at all levels of our state government to support Fort Polk and communicate to decision makers the real value they have in this base," said Reese.

The SPEA and draft FNSI may be accessed at:

http://aec.army.mil/Services/Support/NEPA/Documents.aspx

Written comments about the SPEA and draft FNSI should be sent via email to

USARMY.JBSA.AEC.NEPA@MAIL.MIL

or through the U.S. Postal Service to:

U.S. Army Environmental Command ATTN: SPEA Public Comments 2450 Connell Road (Building 2264) Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664

Fort Polk Progress urges residents of the communities surrounding Fort Polk to send in their comments as soon as possible and to share the address with their friends and neighbors.

"We want our message to the Army to be loud and clear: 'Don't cut troops at Fort Polk. Of any base in the nation, Fort Polk offers the most cost effective, rigorous and relevant training, together with exceptional maneuver space, air space and rapid deployment facilities, on a modern facility surrounded by communities dedicated to supporting soldiers and their families." --end--