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Fort Campbell area officials, Fort Polk Progress launch national coalition of Army communities in opposition to defense cuts

 

Fort Polk ProgressLeesville, LA – A community organization that opposes budget cuts to Fort Campbell announced that they would unite with Fort Polk Progress during a recent visit to Central Louisiana.

Officials with the Friends of Fort Campbell said they hope that the 30 other Army defense communities recently studied for force structure reductions would join with them and Fort Polk Progress to create a unified opposition against budget-driven reductions to active-duty Army.

(From Left: Jim Durrett, county mayor, Montgomery County, Tenn; Katie Lopez, Christian County's Director of Military and Governmental Affairs; Lisa Adams, executive director Beauregard Chamber of Commerce; Jeff Truitt, chief of staff for Mayor Durrett; Jeffery L. Solinsky, alderman, Town of Rosepine and incoming president of the Beauregard Chamber of Commerce; Misty Clanton, community services director, DeRidder; Michael Reese, chairman, Fort Polk Progress; Traci Weaver, of Leesville; Leesville Mayor Rick Allen; Anacoco Mayor Keith Lewing; Rhonda Plummer, Vernon Parish Police Jury Administrator; Jim Tuck, President of the Vernon Parish Police Jury; Hornbeck Mayor Clarence Beebe; Leroy Cooley, Fort Polk Progress; Chris Goode, Roosevelt Group; Rich Liebe, Christian County Magistrate, Hopkinsville, Ken.; and John C. Mahre, special assistant to Chiristian County Judge Executive.)

(From Left: Jim Durrett, county mayor, Montgomery County, Tenn; Katie Lopez, Christian County’s Director of Military and Governmental Affairs; Lisa Adams, executive director Beauregard Chamber of Commerce; Jeff Truitt, chief of staff for Mayor Durrett; Jeffery L. Solinsky, alderman, Town of Rosepine and incoming president of the Beauregard Chamber of Commerce; Misty Clanton, community services director, DeRidder; Michael Reese, chairman, Fort Polk Progress; Traci Weaver, of Leesville; Leesville Mayor Rick Allen; Anacoco Mayor Keith Lewing; Rhonda Plummer, Vernon Parish Police Jury Administrator; Jim Tuck, President of the Vernon Parish Police Jury; Hornbeck Mayor Clarence Beebe; Leroy Cooley, Fort Polk Progress; Chris Goode, Roosevelt Group; Rich Liebe, Christian County Magistrate, Hopkinsville, Ken.; and John C. Mahre, special assistant to Chiristian County Judge Executive.)

On October 2nd, Fort Polk Progress hosted representatives from the Fort Campbell communities of Montgomery County, Tennessee and Hopkinsville, Kentucky in conjunction with the rotation of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of 101st Airborne Division of Fort Campbell through the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC).

Fort Campbell community in attendance included Jim Durrett, County Mayor, Montgomery County, Tennessee and his Chief of Staff Jeff Truitt; Rich Liebe, Christian County Magistrate, Hopkinsville, Kentucky; John C. Mahre, special assistant to Christian County Judge Executive, Hopkinsville, Kentucky; and Katie Lopez, Christian County’s Director of Military and Governmental Affairs.

The Friends of Fort Campbell contingency observed 2/101 BCT maneuvers at the JRTC and met with Mike Reese, chairman of Fort Polk Progress, along with 15 regional community leaders and Fort Polk Progress board members to discuss the future of the Army and the prospect of additional cuts to active duty force structure. After observing training with the 2nd BCT of 101st Airborne, Fort Polk Progress hosted a dinner for the Friends of Fort Campbell and conducted a comprehensive briefing on the Army 2020 process.

“We were proud to host our friends from Fort Campbell,” said Reese. “We immediately saw eye-to-eye and agreed that working together to advocate for our Army makes sense. The active-duty Army is being reduced too quickly. The Brigade Combat Teams we host in our communities are weapons systems built around the soldier. They cannot be built overnight and they deserve to be protected.”

“The goal of our newly-formed coalition is to not only meet our fellow Army community leaders, but to exchange ideas and to find a consensus around protecting active-duty Army force structure,” said Mayor Durrett. “Every Army community is invited to participate. We know the Army needs our help. We want to galvanize our voices and unite our efforts nationwide to do just that.  The community must be the advocate for the Brigade Combat Teams moving forward.”

“Coming to the JRTC and talking to our soldiers from the 101st in the field was immensely gratifying,” said Magistrate Liebe. “Meeting with Fort Polk Progress reinforced our commitment to do everything possible to support an Army that is sized to do the mission. No one Army community can do that. We need to unite and let our voices be heard that the Army is already too small.”

In just over three years, the Army’s force structure has shrunk from 570,000 to 450,000 active-duty soldiers. In 2013, ten Army communities in the United States saw a Brigade Combat Team eliminated.  This past summer, two more BCTs were reorganized and thousands of other soldier positions from BCT and non-BCT Army communities alike were eliminated.

“There is a real possibility that the active-duty Army will further shrink to 420,000 in the coming years, which raises questions regarding its ability to implement the nation’s security strategy,” said Mahre. “The time to take action is now.”

“We live in an Army community,” said Lopez. “We see these soldiers every day and understand the strain on them from multiple deployments.”

In the coming months, Fort Polk Progress and the Friends of Fort Campbell will reach out to other active duty Army communities to expand the conversation about protecting Army force structure.

Others in attendance at the meeting included: DeRidder Mayor Ron Roberts and wife Martha Lou Roberts; Beauregard Parish Administrator Bobby Hennigan; Elizabeth Granger, president of the DeRidder City Council; Avon Knowlton, executive vice president at the Southwest Economic Development Alliance; Don Pierson senior director of business development at Louisiana Economic Development; and Chance Lewis, president of the Beauregard Chamber of Commerce.

For further information please contact Mike Reese, Fort Polk Progress at 337.794.4434 or mike.reese@fortpolkprogress.com or Jeff Truitt, Friends of Fort Campbell, at jmtruitt@mcgtn.net.

About Fort Polk Progress

Fort Polk Progress is a regional community organization that takes a proactive stance against budget-driven U.S. Army troop reductions by maintaining relationships and partnering with decision makers in Congress, at the Pentagon and at the state level, ensuring that the most up to date information concerning Fort Polk and the surrounding communities is used in decisions concerning the base.

In addition, Fort Polk Progress actively markets the base to the military as the most cost effective place to provide soldiers with the best training possible and strives to help ensure the best possible quality of life for soldiers, civilians and their families.

Most recently, Fort Polk Progress has spear-headed an Education Initiative, which acknowledges exceptional educational achievements in the region and pursues continued excellence in education for military families throughout the region.


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