DERIDDER, La.--In a 5:15 press conference Tuesday afternoon, Fort Polk Progress, in conjunction with the City of DeRidder, continued its call to action to elected officials and residents throughout Louisiana and East Texas to respond in force to the Army's Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment released June 26 which analyses the effects of a possible reduction in force by as much as 6,500 troops at Fort Polk.
DeRidder Mayor Ron Roberts welcomed the crowd, referring to the impact public comment had on last year's threat to Fort Polk and explaining that this year the task will be more difficult, but no less important. Mayor Roberts also explained how a reduction in force at Fort Polk would also strike a direct blow to the economy of DeRidder.
"If Fort Polk contracts, DeRidder contracts," he said, and the city's tax base shrinks, resulting in fewer services and fewer amenities for all residents.
Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese explained that the situation this year is more dire and will require more effort to overcome than last year's, with a draw down that is unprecedented in length of time and scope.
"My analysis is that all the easy cuts are now gone," he said, indicating that Fort Polk, though it escaped significant cuts last year, will be looked at much more carefully for possible cuts this year. Reese said that the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, which is known as an orphan brigade, since its division is located in Fort Drum, N.Y., is very much at risk.
Reese also said that while the Joint Readiness Training Center is relatively safe from cuts, any draw down of troops will create reverberations and impact all of the services offered at Fort Polk, from the hospital to the Post Exchange.
"Nothing matters if the public doesn't respond," he said.
Reese said that Fort Polk Progress would directly address the Department of the Army concerning the SPEA. However, that techinical response, he said, carries much more weight with a large public response, which he said he hopes will be dramatically larger than last year's.
Anyone can also create a social media campaign to spread the word and urge others to respond. Click here for sample social media posts.
Fort Polk Progress urges elected officials to share the information with their constituents and other groups, suggesting that they arrange drop-off points for signed letters that can be mailed in sets periodically throughout the commenting period.
In addition, Fort Polk Progress strongly recommends that elected officials write their own letters, issue proclamations and/or pass resolutions in support of growth at Fort Polk and to send these documents as part of the collected comments.
Comments about force structure at Fort Polk should be sent via email to: