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Study: If Army experiences cuts, Fort Riley could lose 16,000 jobs

By The Mercury

The Fort Riley area would suffer a tremendous socioeconomic blow if the Army installation experienced significant soldier and civilian position cuts.

That’s the finding of an Army report released Thursday that analyzes the environmental and socioeconomic impact a loss of 16,000 positions at Fort Riley would incur.

According to the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment, those cuts wouldn’t result in any major environmental impacts, but would come with significant socioeconomic consequences to the installation and surrounding area.

The report comes as Department of Defense officials continue to examine how to decrease spending by 2020 as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

The document doesn’t claim any possible future cuts at Fort Riley will be so severe; it only serves to analyze what could happen if such cuts occurred.
“This does not mean that these losses will actually occur to the full extent analyzed or that each installation analyzed will incur losses,” one part of the document says.

A loss of 16,000 positions at Fort Riley – 15,357 soldiers and 643 Army civilians – would affect an estimated 24,288 family members, according to the document. Additional contract service and induced jobs also would be lost.

The report states that the Fort Riley area would see sales fall 11.9 percent, income would drop 14.4 percent, employment would fall 27.9 percent and the population would shrink by 30.5 percent. The study estimates that 40,288 military employees and their families would leave the area.

The report builds upon the 2013 PEA, which analyzed impacts of reducing the active Army end-strength from 562,000 to 490,000 soldiers by 2020. Possible civilian workforce reductions also were analyzed.

But since that report, the Department of Defense has suggested further end-strength reductions.

The 2014 report explains that the Quadrennial Defense Review states the Army will reduce its total number of soldiers to 440,000 to 450,000 by 2020. However, if Congress doesn’t stop sequestration-level cuts before they’re set to resume in fiscal year 2016, then the Army would need to reduce to 420,000 soldiers.

The Army prepared the 2014 Supplemental PEA to assess the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the increase in potential reductions.

“The Army recognized that these cuts down to 420,000 soldiers could have serious impacts to the communities that host the nation’s force, and this document is intended to determine and disclose those impacts,” according to the report.

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