Army Seeks Public Input on Environmental Impacts of Possible Force Reductions

Fort Riley

Updated 6:30 a.m. Friday:

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) The U.S. Army says budget cuts could mean the loss of thousands of soldiers and employees at Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth.

However,  fort officials say the report released Thursday is a worst-case scenario and the reductions aren’t likely to be as severe as predicted.

The report indicates Fort Riley could lose 16,000 soldiers and civilian employees, with another 3,600 jobs related to the base also eliminated. The fort currently has about 20,000 soldiers and civilian employees.

The Army says Fort Leavenworth could lose 2,500 of its 5,004 employees.

Fort Riley spokesman Col. Sean Ryan says the numbers in such reports are speculation, and he does not expect the fort’s population to ever drop that low because its troops are needed too often.

FORT RILEY, Kan. – The Department of the Army has completed a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) for Army 2020 force structure realignment and is making a draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FNSI) available for public comment. All interested members of the public, federally-recognized Indian or Alaska Native tribes, Native Hawaiian groups, federal, state, and local agencies are invited to review and provide comments.

Comments will be accepted until August 25. Please submit written comments to: U.S. Army Environmental Command, ATTN: SPEA Public Comments, 2450 Connell Road (Building 2264), Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664; or by email to usarmy.jbsa.aec.nepa@mail.mil

Comments will help the Army identify the public’s key environmental issues of concern regarding the implementation of further force reductions.

The SPEA and draft FNSI may be accessed at: http://aec.army.mil/Services/Support/NEPA/Documents.aspx . Also, approximately July 3 – one week after publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register by the Army, copies of the SPEA and draft FNSI will be available in some public libraries near the affected installations. Near Fort Riley, those locations include: Dorothy Bramlage Public Library, 230 West Seventh St., Junction City; and Manhattan Public Library, 629 Poyntz Ave., Manhattan.

The draft FNSI incorporates the SPEA, which does not identify any significant environmental impacts from the proposed action, with the exception of socioeconomic impacts at most installations. The draft FNSI concludes that preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not required.

Final decisions as to which installations will be selected for reductions in Soldiers and Army civilians have not yet been made. The SPEA’s analysis of environmental and socioeconomic impacts will help force structure decision-makers as they identify specific units and organizations to be affected by reductions over the 2015-2020 time frame.

Following the conclusion of the NEPA process, the Army will conduct community listening sessions to receive public input before making any force structure decisions. This information will assist with the military value analysis. The schedule of the community listening sessions will be announced locally, after the conclusion of the SPEA process.

Current budgetary projections require the Army to analyze the reduction of Active Component end strength to a level below that analyzed in the January 2013 Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA). The SPEA builds on the foundation of the 2013 PEA and assesses the impacts of a potential reduction of an additional 70,000 Soldiers and associated reductions in Army civilians, down to an Active Component end-strength of 420,000. These reductions are necessary to achieve the savings required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Nearly all Army installations will be affected in some way by additional reductions. The 2013 PEA evaluated 21 Army installations and joint bases where Army stationing changes could lead to Brigade Combat Team (BCT) restructuring, the loss of a BCT through force drawdown, or a combined loss of 1,000 or more Soldiers and Army civilian employees (Army employees) during the fiscal year 2013-2020 timeframe. With the deeper reductions now anticipated, the Army must consider additional installations that have the potential to lose 1,000 or more Army employees. The potential loss of 1,000 Army employees was determined to be the appropriate threshold for inclusion of installations at the programmatic level of analysis. Installations that could experience reductions of 1,000 or more Army employees were specifically analyzed in the SPEA.

In both the 2013 PEA and the SPEA, each document’s respective reduction alternative analyzed potential reductions at Fort Benning, GA; Fort Bliss, TX; Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Campbell, KY; Fort Carson, CO; Fort Drum, NY; Fort Gordon, GA; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Irwin, CA; Fort Knox, KY; Fort Lee, VA; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Fort Polk, LA; Fort Riley, KS; Fort Sill, OK; Fort Stewart, GA; Fort Wainwright, AK; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; and, United States Army Garrison (USAG) Hawaii – Schofield Barracks, HI. The SPEA also analyzed potential reductions at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD; Fort Belvoir, VA; Fort Huachuca, AZ; Fort Jackson, SC; Fort Leavenworth, KS; Fort Meade, MD; Fort Rucker, AL; Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, TX; and USAG Hawaii – Fort Shafter.

The SPEA provides an assessment of the possible direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the greatest Army employee reductions being considered at each installation. The SPEA does not identify any significant environmental impacts as a result of implementing the proposed action, with the exception of socioeconomic impacts at most installations; consequently, the preparation of an environmental impact statement is not required.

For further information, please contact the Fort Riley Public Affairs Office at (785) 240-1795, or email: steven.j.elstrom.civ@mail.mil