- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

LAWTON, Okla. (AP) - The Army said Thursday that Oklahoma’s Fort Sill will see a 3 percent increase in soldiers in the next two years but overall troop strength at the Army base will remain 30 percent below 2001 numbers.

Gov. Mary Fallin praised the Army’s decision to preserve and add to current force levels at Fort Sill as part of a cost-cutting plan that will cut 1,200 or more soldiers at six other domestic bases to reduce the active-duty force by 40,000 troops.

“Fort Sill being spared cuts is certainly great news for Lawton, Fort Sill and the entire state,” Fallin said. “Fort Sill is more than just an employer here in Oklahoma - the men and women of Fort Sill are part of our Oklahoma family.”

The number of soldiers at Fort Sill will increase to 6,746 over the next two years, according to the Army. A total of 6,527 soldiers are authorized at Fort Sill and the Army said troop strength will increase by 219 at the base by 2017.

But troop strength will be 30 percent below the 9,710 soldiers who were at Fort Sill in 2001, the Army said.

Posts in other states are absorbing thousands of lost positions under the plan. Fort Hood, Texas, the Army’s largest base, would lose 3,350 soldiers, or 9 percent of its personnel under the plan, and Fort Bliss, Texas, would lose 1,219 soldiers, or 5 percent.

Fallin said the restructuring will mean new air defense and field artillery battalions at Fort Sill.

“Fort Sill, in addition to being an important part of our state’s economy, is a key asset in our nation’s defense,” Fallin said. “We pride ourselves on being a state that loves and supports our men and women in uniform.”

Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

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