Friday, January 30, 2015

Army coming to town, cuts on the horizon

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 4:18 PM

On Tuesday, Army brass breezes into town to conduct a "listening" meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., about possible budget cuts.

click to enlarge DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
  • Department of Defense
The Regional Business Alliance is encouraging citizens to wear green in support of Fort Carson and show up and express support for the post.

Here's an email that went out earlier this week:
The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance Military Affairs Council (MAC) and the Army invite you to Wear green and support Fort Carson!
The Department of the Army is conducting a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment and is attending listening sessions across the U.S. Find out how you can support Fort Carson in this process on the Business Alliance website, or read more below. Read full news release.
Keep-Carson-Strong_1-27-15.pdf  
Turns out, Colorado Springs is but one of 30 stops for the Army.  Others will take place in Georgia (Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Stewart), Texas (Fort Bliss, Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston), Kentucky (Fort Knox and Fort Campbell), as well as at least 10 others states, reports pacifist Bill Sulzman.

His point?

"Sounds like the Army itself lobbying against any cuts by trying to orchestrate 'listening' sessions put on by boosters everywhere they can," he writes via email. "The Army is using taxpayer dollars to lobby locals to oppose any cuts in their area hoping this means that there won't be any cuts anywhere. Using government funds to lobby for more government funds. Military Industrial complex shenanigans."

We asked the Army to respond to Sulzman's impression, and got a long response, the upshot of which is that the Army is very interested in what local community folks think and that, surprisingly, not all communities support their installations.

According to Lt. Col. Don Peters, Team Chief, Operations, Intelligence and Logistics, Army Public Affairs at the Pentagon:
A Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment is necessary to meet the Army’s statutory obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.) and to help inform stationing decisions and potential Congressional notification requirements under 10 U.S.C. § 993.

NEPA requires the Army to consider the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of its actions and proposed alternatives and to involve the public. The NEPA process provides Army decision-makers with information on the environmental and socioeconomic impact that may result from the realignment of Army units, to include the concerns of the public and stakeholder organizations. This analysis allows decision-makers to compare and contrast the environmental impact at sites proposed for unit restationing, force restructuring, and unit deactivations. The PEA process is also designed to inform the public of potential environmental and socioeconomic effects associated with the proposed action and to provide the public with an opportunity to provide feedback.

Environmental impacts associated with the implementation of the proposed action include impacts to air quality, cultural resources, biological resources, noise, soil erosion, wetlands, water resources, facilities, socioeconomics, energy demand, land use, hazardous materials and waste, and traffic and transportation.

While not required by law, the Army will conduct community listening sessions at the 30 installations that could potentially be affected by cuts. These sessions are designed to enable community members to provide their concerns and perspectives, and will help Army senior leaders to make informed, yet difficult, decisions regarding force structure changes. These are not question and answer sessions – we are there to hear the community’s voice, and we welcome anything participants have to say.

These listening sessions are in complete compliance with Federal Law, which specifically prohibits lobbying by Active Duty soldiers.
To add perspective, after the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Army built up to 570,000 soldiers. By September 2015, that number will be reduced to 490,000. Due to budget constraints, a further reduction to 450,000 is expected, and sequestration — automatic budget cuts built into a budgeting bill a few years ago — could cause yet another cut to 420,000

Meantime, Sulzman is trying to rally opposition to military expansion, notably its proposal to intensify use of the Pinon Canyon Manuever Site.

The RBA, on the other hand, is trying to combat any reductions, noting any cutbacks could have a devastating impact on the local economy.
 

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