Petition Closed
Petitioning Public Comments USAEC The Department of the Army and 26 others
2 responses

The Department of the Army: Grow Fort Polk


People throughout the country should care about the Department of the Army’s decision concerning troop strength at Fort Polk because Fort Polk represents the Army’s best opportunity to achieve the best training for the lowest price. The nation as a whole deserves well-trained soldiers to defend it. These economic times demand that those soldiers be trained in the most cost-effective way possible.

According to Gen. Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff for the Army, Fort Polk offers just that: the best possible training with the least amount of cost than any other base in the country.

Fort Polk is uniquely situated, more so than any other Army base in the country, to not only grow but to accommodate a variety of training and power projection that is essential for our military to continue to be a force of strength in defending democracy on the world stage. Please consider, as Louisiana's Congressional Delegation has pointed out, that recent federal spending at Fort Polk has made the base ready to host additional battalions without imposing more costs on the Army.

In addition, the base has recently acquired more land in an effort to meet one of the Army’s most urgent needs for additional training lands.

The synergy between operational facilities at Fort Polk and England Airpark provides Fort Polk with unmatched rapid deployment and power projection capabilities, while the potential cost savings of having a Brigade Combat Team permanently garrisoned at Fort Polk and the lower cost of living afforded by Vernon, Beauregard and Rapides parishes for troops and civilian workers should be taken into account as the Department of the Army moves forward in fiscal responsibility under current budget restraints.

People throughout the state of Louisiana should care about the Department of the Army’s decisions concerning Fort Polk because Fort Polk’s economic impact to the state for 2012 will likely approach $1.8 billion. Fort Polk is the largest employer and largest single economic driver in the state. A troop reduction would cost thousands of jobs and significantly impact the state’s economy, producing a ripple effect throughout the region and into the neighboring states of Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi.

In addition, these states’ National Guards and Reserves have a vested interest in Fort Polk, which provides training facilities for all of the nation’s military.

The people of Central Louisiana should care about the Department of the Army’s decision because communities large and small, including Leesville, DeRidder, Alexandria, Lafayette and Lake Charles in Louisiana and Hemphill, Newton and Jasper in Texas, as well as the innumerable small towns in between have all made investments in infrastructure to accommodate growth at Fort Polk.

All have aggressively pursued addressing every deficiency that the Army commanders have pointed out concerning the surrounding communities, striving to meet the Army’s request that the communities provide social needs for soldiers, including housing, so that the Army can focus on preparing for war.

When the Department of the Army wanted improved schools, Vernon Parish borrowed the money and passed a tax issue to fix it.

When the Department of the Army wanted better roads, Vernon Parish and Rapides Parish worked with the state to improve 184, 469, 28 and now 171.

When the Department of the Army wanted more land, Vernon Parish became their biggest advocate, traveling to see landowners and helping the Army create the only successful land purchase program in the country, effectively creating more precious training maneuverability for the Army.

When the Department of the Army needed a plan to accommodate troop growth, Vernon Parish conducted the research, partnered with the state for funding, and implemented a plan.

Now, the Army seeks to potentially destroy the good will it fostered and bankrupt communities that agreed to invest with highly leveraged dollars in every investment they asked for off base.

Because of a lack of other industry base, cuts at Fort Polk have a far greater negative economic impact on our state and our region than cuts being contemplating at bases elsewhere in the country. The effects are disproportionate to the investments the communities have poured into Fort Polk.

Therefore, growing Fort Polk by adding another Brigade Combat Team is the best solution for not only the communities surrounding Fort Polk, but also the State of Louisiana and the nation as a whole.

Letter to
Public Comments USAEC The Department of the Army
Representative Rodney Alexander
Representative Louie Gohmert
and 24 others
Representative Ted Poe
Senator Mark Pryor
Senator David Vitter
Senator Mary Landrieu
Senator Ted Cruz
Representative Cedric Richmond
Senator John Cornyn
Senator John Boozman
State Senator John Smith
Governor Bobby Jindal
State Representative Frank Howard
State Representative Herbert Dixon
State Representative James Armes
Representative John Fleming
Representative Bill Cassidy
Representative Steve Scalise
State Representative Dorothy Hill
Representative Charles Boustany
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate
Louisiana State House
Louisiana State Senate
President of the United States
Louisiana Governor
Grow Fort Polk

This letter is in response to the Department of the Army’s pending force structure realignment that would reduce the Army’s total end-strength from 562,000 at the end of fiscal year 2012 to 490,000 by fiscal year 2020.

If the Department of the Army is set to make a decision concerning force structure reductions at Fort Polk, La., a decision that would essentially annihilate the economies of the base’s surrounding communities of Leesville and Vernon Parish and significantly impact the economy of the entire state of Louisiana, it is imperative that the decision be based upon correct and the most up to date information.

The Department of the Army’s Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) and draft Finding of No Significant Impact for Army force structure reductions and realignments that may occur from Fiscal Years 2013-2020, specifically in reference to the evaluation of the impact of force structure reductions at Fort Polk, contains false and erroneous information.

Since a great deal of information in the PEA concerning Fort Polk is incorrect, I urge you to revise the PEA concerning Fort Polk to include the correct and most up to date information.

I also urge the Department to consider the impact that losing approximately 5,000 soldiers would have on not only Vernon Parish, but the entire state of Louisiana.

A troop reduction of 5,300 soldiers would in effect be a population loss of about 13,000 people, when contractors, support personnel and dependents are taken into account. The economy in Vernon Parish alone would take hits to its major contributors, including the education system and public safety systems. The Vernon Parish and Beauregard Parish school systems stand to lose significant funding if the force reduction occurs.

The full impact on the state of Louisiana if the troop reduction goes forward has yet to be determined, but it’s certain it would be a staggering blow. Fort Polk is the single largest employer in the State of Louisiana.

Rather than reduce troop strength at Fort Polk, I urge the Department of the Army to consider growing Fort Polk.

Fort Polk is uniquely situated, more so than any other Army base in the country, to not only grow but to accommodate a variety of training and power projection that is essential for our military to continue to be a force of strength in defending democracy on the world stage. Please consider, as Louisiana's Congressional Delegation has pointed out, that recent federal spending at Fort Polk has made the base ready to host additional battalions without imposing more costs on the Army.

In addition, the base has recently acquired more land in an effort to meet one of the Army’s most urgent needs for additional training lands.

The synergy between operational facilities at Fort Polk and England Airpark provides Fort Polk with unmatched rapid deployment and power projection capabilities, while the potential cost savings of having a Brigade Combat Team permanently garrisoned at Fort Polk and the lower cost of living afforded by Vernon Parish for troops should be taken into account as the Department of the Army moves forward in fiscal responsibility under current budget restraints.