Specht: Let’s help the RTI reach its full potential

Specht

Last week, the Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce formally showed support for ongoing efforts to fund next phase of the Regional Training Institute (RTI) at Camp Minden. The resolution is part of a growing list of supporters of the project including the Webster Parish Police Jury and the Bossier Parish Police Jury. Others are expected to do the same.

Since completion of phase one, the RTI cycles approximately 2,000 soldiers annually. Once all four phases are complete, the RTI will cycle about 10,000 soldiers, including noncommissioned officers training which will be moved from Camp Cook in Ball, La. to Camp Minden.

Since this is a federally funded project, the dollars needed won’t effect an already-busted state budget, but we will reap the rewards.

However, it will take some effort to get this done.

It will take nearly $75 million to complete phases two through four. While not much in comparison to what the Pentagon normally spends, there
is competition for every dollar.

I would like to challenge the readers of the Minden Press-Herald to put pen to paper, or computer to email, or whatever your preferred method of communication is to help get this done. Believe it or not, politicians take note of the involvement of a constituency and often act accordingly. This is something positive that should flood their inboxes.

If you don’t know what to write, allow me to share a sample letter, courtesy of Stephanie Barnette of the Minden-South Webster Chamber:

Dear XXX,

I am writing to encourage you to support the funding of Phase 2 of the Regional Training Institute located on Camp Minden Training Site that is located east of Bossier City and west of Minden. The Regional Training Institute construction and operation is 100 percent federally funded.

The Regional Training Institute is a military training school with the stated mission of conducting training in military leadership (four courses), military occupational specialties or MOS (five specialties) and skill qualification (five skill qualifications).

The Regional Training Institute construction concept is four phased, multi-year. The total cost is $100.5 million. Phase 1 that included all infrastructure, entry control building, classroom building, dormitory building, central heating/cooling building, supply building and dining facility was completed in 2011 at a cost of $23.8 million.

Currently the Regional Training Institute is staffed and in operation, annually providing military training for over 2,000 soldiers from throughout the United States. When completed and in full operation, the Regional Training Institute will provide military training to approximately 10,000 soldiers per year and infuse $25 million annually into the northwest Louisiana economy.

In 2009, Phase 2 funds in the amount of $26.5 million were cut from the Department of Defense Military Construction budget. I strongly encourage you to support Phases 2 through 4 funding for the Regional Training Institute. This facility is vitally important to our national defense, training our soldiers and the northwest Louisiana economy.

Sincerely,

Here are the addresses for the letters:

The Honorable John Bel Edwards
Office of the Governor
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804

The Honorable Bill Cassidy
U. S. Senate
703 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

(202) 224-5824
Contact: www.cassidy.senate.gov/contact

The Honorable John Kennedy
U. S. Senate
B11 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4623
Email:  https://www.kennedy.senate.gov/

The Honorable Mike Johnson
U. S. Congress
327 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 225-2777
Email:  https://mikejohnson.house.gov/

Major General Glenn H. Curtis
The Adjutant General
Louisiana National Guard
Building 1, Jackson Barracks
New Orleans, LA 70117
504-278-8217
Email: glenn.h.curtis.mil@mail.mil

With a little grassroots effort, the RTI can reach its full potential. Please do you part. Let’s prove that Minden (and Webster Parish) can come together for something great.

David Specht is president of Specht Newspapers, Inc. He may be reached via email at dspecht@press-herald.com.

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