Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri – March 3, 2015
– Over 2,100 community members, along with the largest congregation of federal, state, and local elected officials in the region’s history filled Nutter Field House on Monday, March 2 for the Army Listening Session hosted by Fort Leonard Wood.
Attendees were welcomed by Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, and Col. Karl Konzelman, chief of the Army G-3/5/7 Force Management Division. Konzelman provided a brief overview regarding the Army analysis that was conducted last year. He explained how and why the Army used a figure of 5,400 Soldier and Army Civilian jobs to represent potential losses and indicated that this would be a worst-case scenario.
Mike Dunbar, Chair of the Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission introduced the guest speakers, including Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, and 4th District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler.
McCaskill, who is second in seniority to the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, reminded the delegation from Washington D.C. and those in attendance that Fort Leonard Wood is an incredible value to the Army.
“Fort Leonard Wood has the lowest direct cost for training,” said McCaskill.
Blunt echoed McCaskill’s remarks regarding the quality level of training done at the installation and called for the Army to consider capitalizing on this value.
“We need to find things that are happening at other places that would better happen at Fort Leonard Wood and bring them here,” said Blunt.
In addition to federal elected officials, approximately two-thirds of the Missouri Senate and more than 50 Missouri Representatives took buses from Jefferson City to Fort Leonard Wood to attend the event. Senator Dan Brown and Representative Steve Lynch, both of whom represent the area surrounding Fort Leonard Wood, spent time addressing the community.
Joe Driskill, Executive Director for the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership, followed the guest speakers and led the community presentation.
“There was outstanding collaboration from multiple organizations throughout the region to create the presentation. We will bring everyone back together again and continue to monitor the Army’s decision-making progress, as well as move forward on additional projects that will benefit the Fort Leonard Wood region,” said SOP Executive Director Joe Driskill.
The community presentation included an overview of the possible impact cuts would have on the region’s economy, and provided details on the high-quality education, healthcare, housing, and quality of life offered in the region.
Driskill concluded with a clear message that the loss of Soldiers or Army Civilian jobs would have a devastating impact on the Fort Leonard Wood region and seriously impact the quality of life for any Soldiers and Families that remain. Driskill also reminded the leaders from the Pentagon that Fort Leonard Wood is a great place for the Army to maintain or expand its presence.
“We offer a high quality of life with exceptionally supportive partnerships in a very low-cost environment. Above all of this, however, there are no encroachment issues or concerns on current and future training missions. Our community is ready to support expansion at Fort Leonard Wood,” said Driskill.
The slides from the community presentation and pictures from the event can be found on the SOP website: www.sustainableozarks.org.
The Sustainable Ozarks Partnership (SOP) is building on the Fort Leonard Wood region’s strong past and preparing the region for a healthy, resilient future. We are a nonprofit organization working to bring all of the region’s stakeholders to the table to drive regional development and advocate for new or expanded military and federal missions. Our region offers a high quality of life, excellent education opportunities, and easy transportation access. We are strengthening the Fort Leonard Wood region.