Missouri senators ask Army to reconsider Ft. Leonard Wood reductions

Missouri's two U.S. senators want the Pentagon to reconsider a proposed troop realignment that could reduce the number of soldiers stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in south-central Missouri by nearly 4,000.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt and Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, wrote a joint letter Monday to U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh saying they're concerned about possible plans to reconfigure brigade combat teams at the Pulaski County installation. Both are on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A preliminary report by the Army's Environmental Command includes a possible force reduction of 3,900 of the more than 27,000 troops at Fort Leonard Wood. The proposal is part of a larger Army plan that could reduce the total number of enlisted soldiers by 80,000 in 2020.

The force reduction plan targets Fort Leonard Wood's Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, part of a broad military training program that includes a school for military police.

Blunt and McCaskill pointed out that linking training units with their operational counterparts cuts down on the frequent transfers that can weaken military families. They also urged McHugh to keep in mind the Army's “conscious effort” during the 2005 base realignments to keep training schools near larger installations.

The Army is holding a public meeting on the proposal at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fort Leonard Wood's Abrams Theater. Similar sessions are planned at the 20 other installations targeted for realignment.

Ten of those installations could each lose 8,000 troops, including Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Fort Riley, Kan.