WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, David Vitter and U.S. Representatives John Fleming, Charles Boustany, Steve Scalise, Cedric Richmond, Ralph Abraham and Garret Graves are urging Brigadier General Roger L. Cloutier to attend the upcoming Army Listening Session at Fort Polk on March 3, 2015 to discuss the Army’s ongoing active-duty Brigade Combat Team reductions. The Louisiana delegation would also welcome the opportunity to meet with General Cloutier in the coming weeks to discuss Army force structure reduction plans and alternative options.
A copy of the letter can be found below.
“The Fort Polk community has been a great home to our soldiers, veterans and their families—we want to keep it their home,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy. “Changes to the Army’s structure will affect our national security and our communities. This should and must be discussed.”
“Despite the increasing serious threats from abroad, the President is cutting our troops at a drastic pace that is well beyond what our military leadership has stated is essential for our nation’s defense,” said Sen. David Vitter. “Our Brigade Combat Team and Joint Readiness Training Facility at Fort Polk are absolutely necessary to continue protecting our country and maintaining a strong defense against terrorist and other threats abroad.”
“The people of Leesville and the other communities near Fort Polk have shown unparalleled support for the Army and for its mission at Fort Polk. They take pride in Fort Polk and are fervent in their enthusiasm for the men and women who serve there.” said Rep. Fleming. “Leesville and the surrounding communities have also shown their support for Fort Polk in very tangible ways, building new schools, partnering with the Army in land acquisition, and supporting infrastructure improvements throughout the area. It is vital that General Cloutier and the Army take every available opportunity to carefully consider the views of the Leesville community, and of its representatives in Congress.”
“Fort Polk is important for families across Southwest and Central Louisiana, supporting thousands of jobs and generating $1 billion in payroll in 2013. When I visited this installation in November, I was reminded of the critical role this base plays in preparing our troops for combat situations through the Joint Readiness Training Center’s highly realistic combat training,” said Rep. Boustany. “I’m confident if Brigadier General Cloutier could find time to attend the Army Listening Session on March 3, the outpouring of public support combined with this base’s impressive capabilities will convince him to protect Fort Polk from further unnecessary cuts.”
“Fort Polk is a vital asset to America’s national security and Louisiana’s economy,” said Rep. Scalise. “I am hopeful that Brig. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier will attend the Army Listening Session in Louisiana to hear about the state and community’s efforts to support Fort Polk, and I urge the Army to maintain an open dialogue with the Leesville community and our congressional delegation.”
“Fort Polk is a vital part of our state and very important to our national security,” said Rep. Richmond. “The Fort Polk community deserves to have a voice in these discussions and we will keep working to make sure they are heard.”
“Fort Polk plays critical roles both in the security of our nation and in the economic stability of Central Louisiana,” said Rep. Abraham. “As Congress considers action against ISIL, now is the time to make sure the base has ample resources – including high troop levels – to continue its mission of keeping America safe.”
“Fort Polk is the Army’s premier training center because of incomparable ranges and unmatched cost-effectiveness. Fifty percent of all combat BCTs train at the JRTC, and Fort Polk is the only – only – post in the Army that is expanding,” said Rep. Graves. “This is not possible without the Army’s relationship with state and local partners who will be devastated by any troop reduction. Cutting troops at Polk destabilizes the partnership, which undermines community support, which compromises the mission. If the Army wants excellence in training, double down on Fort Polk, don’t double cross it.”
February 5, 2015
Brigadier General Roger L. Cloutier
Director, Force Management
G3/5/7 Operations and Plans
400 Army Pentagon, Room 2E366
Washington, DC, 20310-0400
Dear General Cloutier:
We look forward to working with you and the Army leadership to address the resourcing challenges faced by the Army. We remain particularly concerned by the Army’s ongoing active-duty Brigade Combat Team reductions in the face of real and growing national security challenges. We can assure you that we are doing everything possible as a Delegation to be the leading Army advocate as Congress considers the FY16 President’s Request. To that end, we are looking forward to the upcoming March 3rd Army Listening Session at Fort Polk, and we would very much appreciate it if you would be willing to join that session. We would also appreciate the opportunity to meet with you in the coming weeks in Washington, DC, to understand your perspective on the Army force structure reduction plans and to discuss our views and potential options during the FY16 legislative session.
The Leesville community once again out-paced every other community in providing public comments to the Army’s Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Army force structure reductions. You and your representatives will undoubtedly experience a warm and uniquely Louisianan enthusiasm for Fort Polk during the Army’s visit to Leesville. This spirit is rooted in a deep pride and a vibrant community partnership with the Army. Nonetheless, we need to stress to you that something runs even deeper than the community’s support for the military – and that is commitment. The 4/10 Brigade Combat Team and other units at Fort Polk have persuasively demonstrated how a community and the Army can work together positively to the benefit of both parties.
One significant reason that Leesville and its surrounding communities are different is because Fort Polk represents the only installation in the Army that is growing in land size as a result of a solid partnership with the community. The Army is already training on lands transferred under the ongoing land acquisition program and such land has made concurrent Brigade home station and JRTC rotational training seamless. The Army has moved on to acquire even more parcels, some on heritage lands whose owners have previously left their property to support the growth of Fort Polk. It is not easy on some landowners to be asked to move once again, and while condemnation may be necessary in a few cases, for the most part, the Army has enjoyed a remarkably successful program. The 4/10 Brigade Combat Team has provided a tangible level of manning stability during this land growth and must be kept in the context of the previous boom and bust cycles which made the typical level of commercial and retail development unattainable at Fort Polk. The community is palpably aware of the past cycles but with the presence of the 4/10, the environment is changing. Today, the communities around Fort Polk are growing, modernizing and investing like never before. With a booming state economy, more soldiers and their families are staying in Louisiana.
Fort Polk’s community is different. The community has built new schools by maximizing its bonding authority. It is steadfastly working with the Army to grow the acreage of the training lands. The State has spent millions to expand the road network and infrastructure around the base. Its cost of energy, BAH, government locality pay, and cost of construction is low. To eliminate a BCT at the same time our community residents are selling their land and taking large parcels of property out of the local tax base presents a paradox that justifies careful thought and attention by Army leadership. Therefore, we hope you will consider attending our Listening Session and meeting first-hand with our community leaders, Army families, and residents.
Thank you for your consideration. Again, we are confident that, as in the past, you will note how the Louisiana Congressional Delegation takes the lead in supporting the Army. The nation deserves a fully resourced and ready Army – we are committed to ensuring the United States Army remains the best in the world.
The Honorable John M. McHugh
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC, 20310-0101
General Raymond T. Odierno
Chief of Staff
200 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC, 20310-0200
Ms. Katherine G. Hammack
Assistant Secretary for Installations, Energy and Environment (ASAIE)
110 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC, 20310-0110
Lieutenant General David Halverson
HQDA, ATT: DAIM-ZA
600 Army Pentagon, RM 3E474
Washington, DC 20310-0600
United States of America