- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Army fatigues are ubiquitous in Leavenworth, a town synonymous with the storied military fort that gives the place its name. But many of those uniforms could go away in the wake of an Army study that contemplates cutting personnel at Fort Leavenworth in half to meet budget cuts and sequestrations out of Washington.

Civic leaders are alarmed at the effect that would have at an installation that had an estimated $2.8 billion economic impact on the region in 2012, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/1yhBCbz ).

“It is a genuine concern to us,” said Jennifer Daly, president of the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’re trying to make sure that the greater Kansas City area is aware that this is a threat.”

Communities around Fort Leavenworth, Fort Riley and dozens of other Army installations across the country feel new pressure to lobby the Pentagon about why their particular base is especially critical to the U.S. Army.

“You can’t have a military drawdown and not have some impact on communities,” said Cindy Williams, a research affiliate in security studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The question is how those impacts get sorted out and how much of a voice local leaders and state governors have and how much legislators have to say.”

The Army study looks at the effects of possible reductions at 30 installations to decrease the force from about 490,000 to as low as 420,000. In a worst-case scenario, Fort Leavenworth’s baseline workforce of 5,004 would be cut by 2,500 soldiers and civilian employees.

Prospects are even more drastic at Fort Riley near Junction City, Kansas. It could lose 16,000 of its workforce of 19,995. Fort Leonard Wood in central Missouri could lose 59 percent of its workforce of 9,161.

An Army spokeswoman said the numbers are meant to give decision-makers flexibility.

“The Army has no intent to implement the maximum number of reductions at each of the installations,” said Cathy Kropp, a public affairs specialist at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio who is familiar with the study. “But there is potential for the maximum cut at any installation. More than likely, every installation will receive a reduction of some sort.”

The Army is accepting public comments about the possible cuts through Aug. 25, and civic leaders here are encouraging individuals and organizations to send in plenty. But that is happening elsewhere, as well.

“Every community affected by these cuts is going to bring pressure,” Williams said. “They’re going to cut from somewhere.”

The Army is supposed to announce its decisions in June. That will be followed by a period of congressional review. The cuts are to be implemented in October 2015.

Jack Walker, deputy to the garrison commander at Fort Leavenworth, has been conducting briefings on the potential cuts, including one Aug. 7 at the Mid-America Regional Council. He said the direct salary loss of the maximum soldier and civilian cuts at Fort Leavenworth would be about $200 million.

But the impact would be greater than that:

An estimated 3,831 family members would also be affected, totaling a population loss of 6,355.

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