More than 1,500 western Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee residents gathered at Fort Campbell Tuesday night to share concerns about potential cuts.
Due to budget reductions, the Army studied reducing Fort Campbell’s personnel by 16,000 last November, which would cut its current force in half. Among the unit’s supporters was Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Crit Luallen, who had concerns after the 159th combat aviation brigade’s deactivation last November.
“Kentucky leaders feel that now we are already bearing more than our share of the cuts... and any consideration of additional cuts to Fort Campbell would directly contradict a strategy that values global response,” Luallen said.
Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs Chairman David Thompson says Kentucky military installations have taken more than thirty percent of military force cuts in the past two years, more than any other state.
The listening session was part of the Army’s preparation to cut 125,000 soldiers by fiscal year 2019.
Army Force Management Director Brigadier General Roger Cloutier says no decisions have yet been made.
“There’s a lot of inputs that are going into this process. Once they’re all gathered I’d say late spring or so, we’ll present that to the senior leaders and they’ll make their decisions,” Cloutier said.
Michael McMillan is the vice president of a Clarksville Construction company that hires veterans and does work on the base. He’s seen the effects of a reduction before.
“We saw a shortage, a slowdown in the early 90s when we went to the Gulf War. Work came to a halt here, I mean, it came to a halt. And then again around 2000 there was a big slowdown. We had to lay off about half our work force,” McMillan said.
The Department of Defense will gather information from this listening session and others around the nation before making its decision in late spring or summer. The Fort Campbell listening session brought the largest turnout for those held across the nation so far.