Ft. Polk faces troop reduction - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Ft. Polk faces troop reduction

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FORT POLK, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - An Army troop reduction plan could pull some 70,000 soldiers from installations across the country. That includes our troops at Fort Polk, where more than half of them are at risk of being pulled. 

It's a fallout that no one wants to face, as Fort Polk is the number one employer in the state of Louisiana. The potential loss of 6,500 troops at Fort Polk, has many ready to fight the loss. 

Chairman of Fort Polk Progress, Michael Reese said, "The people of Louisiana care about this army base they care about the future of this army base".

"Our location in the central part of the state without ports and things like that, will help our economic growth," said Leesville Mayor Rick Allen.

Due to budget cuts, the Army is downsizing from 570,000 to a potential 420,000 troops over the next few years. That is the smallest it's been in decades. 

Reese said, "this year they're studying impacts at 30 possible bases across the country. Last year the potential impact at Fort Polk was about 5,300 soldiers, we actually lost about 250 soldiers and so we felt like we succeeded in that process. The base withstood that round of cuts".

"We have a goal set that we accomplished last year with the threat  -- 4700 letters sent in, we shouldn't have any problem doubling that number," said Mayor Allen. 

According to community members, they paid a big price to get Fort Polk here in the first place, and they can pay a big one to keep it.

Fort Polk Progress volunteer  Tammy Sharp said, "We're organizing a marketing campaign to make sure people are aware they can play a huge role in keeping Fort Polk here, stable and growing".

"This is where the army wants to be, this is where they want to train and station and house soldiers," said Reese.

Fort Polk also offers more for the community than any other installation in the country. Fort Polk Progress says the facts are in their favor. 

Mayor Allen said, "There's so many people that will be affected by it, a lot of these other bases will be able to sustain a cut and their economy would continue to thrive, unfortunately ours would not."

The Government is expected to make a decision by June of 2015.

 For more on how you can help, visit www.fortpolkprogress.com

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