ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - More than 500 people concerned with possible force reductions that could shrink the Soldier and civilian population at APG by 4,300 personnel, attended a public listening session at the Harford Technical High School Amoss Center Jan. 29.
Attendees included current and past APG employees as well as local politicians and state representatives, business leaders, civic groups and educators with ties to the installation.
A team from the Department of the Army Force Management Directorate in the Pentagon, led by Col. Karl Konzelman, hosted the Army Force Structure & Stationing Listening Session. During opening remarks, he was joined by APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford and Garrison Commander Col. Gregory McClinton.
Maryland Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Linda M. Singh also shared remarks in support of the installation which supports the Maryland National Guard.
According to Konzelman reductions are necessary to meet the spending levels required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
"Nearly all Army installations will be affected in some way by the reductions," Konzelman said, adding that the 2013 Programmatic Environmental Assessment evaluated 21 Army installations and joint bases where Army stationing changes could result in the inactivation and restructuring of brigade combat teams or a combined loss of 1,000 or more Army employees during the fiscal year 2013-2020 timeframe.
"With the deeper reductions now anticipated, the supplemental assessment evaluated the original 21 installations for greater cuts as well as nine additional installations," he said.
Konzelman said the purpose of the session was to explain what the Army is doing and the process that will be used to reach the stationing decision, which is expected sometime in late spring or early summer.
He said the entire process is driven by the 2011 Budget Control Act and 2012 Defense Guidance reducing the active component (AC) Soldier population from 570,000 to 490,000 and AC Brigade Combat Teams from 45 to 32.
Because the Army faces a difficult fiscal environment and must meet the spending levels required by the 2011 Budget Control Act, the U.S. Army Environmental Command conducted a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The assessment concluded in June 2014.
The Army announced in November 2014 the "Finding of No Significant Impact" environmentally, while conceding that the socio-economic impact of a personnel reduction could be significant.
Konzelman said that while APG was analyzed for the loss of 4,300 positions this does not mean that the installation stands to lose that many.
He said decision-making aids include conducting qualitative analysis which includes evaluating strategic considerations, station recommendations and other quantitative factors.
Before opening the session to comments, Konzelman assured attendees their interests would be taken into consideration and thanked all for attending.
"Thank you for what you do for the Army, this installation and your community," he said.
Forecasted to last about two hours, the session stretched nearly three as attendees lined up to have their voices heard.
Harford Community College President Dr. Dennis Golladay called the relationship between APG and the school "enduring and world class," noting that scientists and engineers from the post often serve as instructors for STEM programs.
"We need to remain strong in STEM fields and these reductions could impact those we've come to depend on," he said.
Michael Parker, a former RDECOM deputy, the first CMA director and a current government contractor, said his company also would be negatively impacted by reductions at APG.
"It would be difficult for us to continue without the same level of technology APG brings," he said.
Tim McNamara, director of Community/Installation Relations and Infrastructure at JPEO CBD, speaking in an unofficial capacity, talked about the three generations of APG civilians in his family and the need to maintain a technological edge in today's global environment.
"It's really the people who are going to [do] it," he said, "Not the infrastructure or the equipment. It is civilians working side by side with Soldiers that will make it happen."
Civilian retiree Charles Nietubicz, who led the supercomputing center at APG's Army Research Laboratory, before retiring in 2010, talked about the history of supercomputing at APG from the ENIAC to today and said the system at APG is one of the 10 most powerful in the world.
"It's what we need for the future and we must continue to work that mission," he said.
APG civilians and contractors -- among them several self-described "BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure] survivors" -- also added comments. They shared how they had moved to and embraced this community after BRAC closed Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and moved many of its organizations to APG.
Another, a veteran of two combat tours, said he takes pride in designing systems that Soldiers would be proud to use. Still another, expressed suspicion about the process and concerns that decision-makers realize "real people" will be impacted by their decision.
Among them was CECOM civilian Yvonne Emanuel who said she still maintains two homes and rises at 3:30 a.m. to commute to APG. "Trust is our main concern and our next concern is the mission," she said.
Crawford thanked attendees and encouraged them to continue to tell the APG story.
"You talked about things that happen here at APG that impact the nation," he said. "I ask all of you to treat this as a beginning; to tell the story so decision-makers can make informed decisions."
The Army often invites the public to provide feedback on actions it is undertaking.
Questions or comments may be sent to USARMY.JBSA.AEC.NEPA@MAIL.MIL
For more information, contact the APG Garrison public affairs office at 410-278-1147 or visit http://aec.army.mil/Services/Support/NEPA/Documents.aspx.