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Fort Leonard Wood to lose 1,000 troops

ST. LOUIS — As part of budget cuts throughout the U.S. military, the largest base in Missouri is expected to lose 1,000 soldiers by October 2015.

Army Maj. General Leslie Smith, who oversees Fort Leonard Wood, discussed the cuts Wednesday at a town hall meeting on the base in south-central Missouri.

"There was no reaction from the audience when this information was provided," said spokeswoman Tiffany Wood.

She said Army officials told base leadership two weeks ago about the changes. Cuts have been rumored for months.

Fort Leonard Wood is mainly known as a training base for military police, chemical weapons, engineering and basic skills for recruits. The cuts are expected to come from Forces Command, a less visible group that deploys soldiers overseas.

About 7,000 people in uniform work at Fort Leonard Wood, in addition to 12,000 military personnel there for training and 9,000 civilian employees. Thousands more family members and retirees have ties to the 63,000-acre facility 135 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Meanwhile, changes are also expected at Scott Air Force Base in southern Illinois, though it's unclear what they will be, said base spokeswoman Karen Petitt.

About 1,100 people on base are eligible to apply for "voluntary separation" by May 1 or for early retirement, but it's unclear how many will be approved.

"We are still waiting from the Air Force to see what the numbers are," she said.

The Air Force expects to reduce its force levels 8 percent by the end of 2015, she said.

About 13,000 people work at At Scott Air Force Base, including 5,500 active duty personnel, 1,500 Reserves, 900 in the Air National Guard and 5,000 civilians.

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