WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), issued the following letter today to the U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter expressing their concern for any effort by the Obama administration to further reduce Army end strength, which could impact Fort Campbell and Fort Knox in Kentucky. As a staunch defender of Kentucky’s military installments and fierce advocate for our nation’s armed forces, Sen. Paul believes that maintaining a robust Army active duty end strength at Fort Campbell and Fort Knox is vital to the defense of the nation.
Sens. Paul and McConnell sent two previous letters to Defense Sec. Carter and former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel voicing their concerns with the proposed Army cuts. Both letters can be found HERE and HERE.
In January 2015, Sen. Paul participated in the Fort Campbell and Fort Knox community listening sessions and spoke in favor of protecting and expanding Army personnel at both Kentucky bases.
Following Sen. Paul’s participation in the listening sessions, Sen. Paul voted in favor of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), which would require the Army to maintain a minimum of 32 brigade combat teams in the regular and reserve components. Since 2013, Kentucky has absorbed a disproportionate amount of active duty Army reductions and transfers at both Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. Had it passed, the amendment would have prevented any further elimination of brigade combat teams in Kentucky and across the country, however, it failed 26-73.
Additionally, Sen. Paul introduced and secured passage of his Service Members and Communities Count Act as an amendment to NDAA in June 2015. The legislation would require the U.S. Census Bureau to count all deployed service members at the base or port in which they resided prior to deployment. Presently, deployed members are counted as part of the U.S. overseas population, instead of in the community where they and their families actually reside. Sen. Paul also introduced an amendment to NDAA that would specifically allow the U.S. Department of Defense to produce natural gas at Fort Knox.
A copy of the letter sent to Defense Secretary Carter today can be found HERE or below.
The Honorable Ashton Carter
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20310
Dear Secretary Carter:
We write today on behalf of members of the Armed Forces based at Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, their families, and the surrounding communities that support Kentucky service members. As you complete the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of Defense (DOD) budget request, we would like to reiterate that we remain deeply concerned of any effort by the Obama administration to further reduce Army active duty end strength. Any additional reduction could be dangerous to our national security, particularly in light of significant conflicts across the globe.
When the United Sates has been threatened by forces outside our borders, Kentuckians and service members stationed at Army installations in the Commonwealth have answered the call to sacrifice and defend this great nation. Army active duty end strength has already been significantly reduced under this administration. It is our understanding that these reductions have increased the difficulty of combatant commanders to execute their missions in defense of the United States. Any further reduction of Army personnel would unnecessarily add pressure on the men and women serving as well as their commanders.
As you know, even with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, DOD continues to face budget restrictions. While we are supportive of policies that allow DOD to examine ways to cut duplicative or unnecessary programs, we believe that maintaining a robust Army end strength is vital to the defense of this nation.
The Army installations in Kentucky provide critical services that are necessary for the national defense and security of our country. The units and personnel from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox are some of the greatest assets to the Army and the Commonwealth itself. As you consider DOD’s FY 2017 budget request to Congress, we ask that when determining the Army’s active duty end strength, you keep in mind Section 422 of the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 114-92) that requires DOD to report to Congress on the force structure of the Army and include an independent risk assessment by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the ability of the Army to meet the operational requirements of combatant commanders.
Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.
RAND PAUL MITCH MCCONNELL
UNITED STATES SENATOR UNITED STATES SENATOR