Special to the Journal
COLUMBUS, GA – In response to a letter sent by Congressman Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (GA-02), Ranking Member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, the Army has granted an extension of 30 days to the public comment period for their Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment.
“As you know, this decision [whether to inactivate a brigade at Fort Benning or other installations] will have a tremendous impact on my district in Southwest Georgia,” wrote Congressman Bishop. “It is important all of our local leaders have adequate time to view, assess, and comment on the data provided in the report to ensure the greatest accuracy possible.”
In January 2013, the United States Army released a final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment, which reviews and analyzes the impact of an anticipated force-wide restructuring plan. The Army has completed this analysis in an effort to ensure that vital national defense capabilities are maintained in a climate of budgetary constraints as U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming to an end. Consequently, the Army is beginning a process to reduce their total active end-strength from 562,000 to 490,000 by 2020 as part of the military’s overall budget reduction.
As part of this drawdown, plans are being laid to deactivate eight Army Brigade Combat Teams. The Army has announced two of the deactivated brigades will come from units stationed in Europe, while the remaining six will come from twenty-one U.S. installations home to Brigade Combat Teams, possibly including Fort Benning, Georgia
Domestic sites being considered for force reduction also include: Fort Bliss, TX; Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Campbell, KY; Fort Carson, CO; Fort Drum, NY; Fort Gordon, GA; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Irwin, CA; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; Fort Knox, KY; Fort Lee, VA; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Fort Polk, LA; Fort Riley, KS; Fort Sill, OK; Fort Stewart, GA; U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii; and U.S. Army Garrison Fort Wainwright, AK.
In making a final determination, the Army will consider environmental issues; socioeconomic impact (reduced employment, income, regional population, and sales); as well as operational (military value); cost, strategy and geographic distribution; investment and regeneration; and soldier and family quality of life.
“It cannot be understated how important Fort Benning, its service members, and support staff are to the community and economy of the greater Columbus region,” said Congressman Bishop. “Given the potential impact of the PEA on Fort Benning and the surrounding area, I would urge anyone concerned about the potential loss of a brigade to submit a public comment. It is vital that the details of the PEA are accurate, and we must continue to do all that we can to support our soldiers.”
In order to view the entire Environmental Impact Statement, please click here.
In order to view the Environmental Impact Statement sections that reference Fort Benning, please click here.
The public comment period ends on March 21, 2013. Comments can be submitted to USARMY.JBSA.AEC.MBX@mail.mil or written comments can be sent to:
USAEC Attn: IMPA-AE (Army 2020 PEA)
2450 Connell Road (Bldg 2264)
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-7664