At least two Leavenworth organizations are encouraging area residents to submit feedback concerning the possibility of a significant force reduction at Fort Leavenworth.
The Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce and Leavenworth County Republican Party sent out emails Tuesday morning asking residents to lobby the U.S. Army, Department of Defense and state and federal officials concerning the potential force reduction of 2,500 military and civilian personnel at the fort.
"The Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce urges community members to participate in the 60-day comment period to emphasize the importance of Fort Leavenworth to our local and regional area and especially the benefits of Leavenworth as a military-inclusive community," according to the Chamber's email.
"Now is the time to speak up, both during the comment period and to our state and federal leaders," the county GOP's email states.
"Business leaders as well as local citizens need to consider commenting on the impacts to Leavenworth County."
The Army recently-released a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment and the Department of Defense has started analyzing potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of soldier/civilian reductions at 30 installations in the U.S., including the fort.
Last week, Jack Walker, the deputy to Fort Leavenworth's garrison commander, briefed the three-member Leavenworth County Commission on possible fort force reductions.
Walker said he doubted all 2,500 positions from the fort would be eliminated, though a hit that size would have considerable effects.
A reduction of 2,500 positions would result in $147.2 million in lost salaries for military personnel and another $56.1 million for civilian employees.
The Army is conducting the 60-day comment period followed by a listening session before final force reduction decisions are made.
The Chamber of Commerce, with the Governor's Military Council, has created talking points for residents in addressing the potential force reduction:
"The communities near Fort Leavenworth want to ensure the fort is strong and viable and to do so in a way that allows the Army to achieve its mission cost effectively," the agency's email states.
Key points are:
• Fort Leavenworth is an important component of the region's economy and has generated numerous employment opportunities for veterans and military/veteran spouses.
• The region and Fort Leavenworth have benefitted by forming strong partnerships in areas such as emergency services, education, quality of life programs and medical services.
• Access to the fort is improving due to safety and volume improvements to local highways and bridges.
• The state and region have protected the future of Fort Leavenworth by putting into place statutes and systems to ensure only compatible use projects are approved near the fort.
• The region has built adequate affordable housing and other facilities and infrastructure to support Fort Leavenworth's current requirements, and is planning to build new hotels and conference space to accommodate fort needs.
• Kansas was the first state to sign the interstate compact for military children education.
• The state and region continue to encourage military spouse employment and the transition of veterans into local communities by recognizing professional licenses from other states and military-inclusive career transition programming.
The Republican Party's email also referred to the Chamber's talking points, but was more pointed in the seriousness of a possible reduction at Fort Leavenworth.
"We are rapidly approaching a budget and force structure for our military that gave us Pearl Harbor, and troops training with wooden rifles," Chairman Mike Powell wrote. "If that seems preposterous, there are those in your community, like myself, that remember not that long ago we trained aviators and tankers in jeeps because we couldn't afford the money to fly or drive tanks under an administration with similar fiscal goals.
"If that happens again, it is our fault."