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Army considering Stewart for more soldiers

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POSTED: October 2, 2007 5:04 a.m.
Fort Stewart is among 17 Army posts being studied to determine which would make the best homes for six new brigade combat teams over the next six years.
A Fort Stewart spokesman said only the Army has made no decision on locating the brigades.
There are 17 Army bases capable of taking (with some additional construction) one of these brigades. The Army is studying the facilities at each base, and polling the surrounding communities, to see which six bases would best be able to handle a new brigade.
The assessment is part of a plan the service announced at the beginning of the year to grow the active and Reserve force by 74,000 soldiers. About 35,000 of those soldiers will be assigned to fill out six new brigade combat teams as they are stood up.
The service’s senior leadership has asked Army Environmental Command to collect comments from anyone living on or near these installations about the possibility of adding a minimum of 1,000 soldiers — or even a couple of the new brigades, which usually contain about 4,000 soldiers each, Bob DiMichele, a spokesman for Environmental Command, said.
Besides Fort Stewart, bases under consideration are Fort Benning, Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Hunter-Liggett, Calif.; Fort Irwin, Calif.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Lewis, Wash.; Fort Polk, La.; Fort Riley, Kan.; White Sands Missile Range, N.M.; Yakima Training Center, Wash.; and Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.
The study of those posts is intended to give the senior leadership a “big picture” of which installations have the adequate training infrastructure and housing to support large influxes of soldiers and family members. It will also help show how these possible troop increases will affect the area’s education, transportation and environmental resources, DiMichele said.
A public notice announcing the availability of the “Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” for the study was posted on the Federal Register and in USA Today. The draft document can be viewed at http://aec.army.mil/ usaec/publicaffairs/news/arforgen.pdf
The public comment period will be open for 45 days, DeMichele said. After that, the comments will be compiled into a report that should be ready by the end of the calendar year.
The report will be made available for public review and comment for another 30 days. Following another round of revisions, the report will then be presented to the senior leadership.
The entire process selecting the installations and housing these new brigades is scheduled to be completed by 2013, DiMichele said.
All written comments and suggestions should be sent to Public Affairs Office, U.S. Army Environmental Command, Building E4460, 5179 Hoadley Road, Attention: IMAE–PA, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21010–5401.
Participants can also e-mail comments to PublicComments@aec.apgea.army.mil
The ultimate decision will determine where tens of thousands of soldiers and family members will call home and will bring significant growth to the communities of the selected posts.
The U.S. Army is in the midst of adding 74,000 troops to its active duty and reserve strength. Recruiting the troops is one thing, the other is, where are you going to put them? About half the new troops are reservists, who only go on active duty two weeks a year.
That’s not a major problem. But finding a home for the active duty troops is. Most of the new active duty troops will form six new combat brigades. Each of these has about 4,000 troops. Add dependents, and you have about 10,000 people, per brigade, that you have to find housing, schools and training areas for. The new troops that are not going into the new brigades will be sent to units throughout the Army, and will not impose a noticeable burden on local resources. But when another combat brigade arrives at an Army post, it is noticed.
The civilian communities around the bases have different opinions about more troops, and dependents, moving in. The business community, and many politicians, like all the new economic opportunities the additional people, and their payrolls, bring. But others living in the area think of crowded highways and schools, and prices going up, if only for a while, as more money chases the same amount of resources.
 

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