Rep. Sanford Bishop says all Fort Benning commanders looking into cutting costs

benw@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 19, 2011 

A week after a Fort Benning official reduced the projected impact from the Base Realignment and Closure process and acknowledged a 15 percent cut in its workforce on post, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. said all post commanders have been directed to study their operations to reduce costs.

“I think that is a prudent thing to do,” Bishop, D-Albany, said Thursday after attending a Women’s Equality Day luncheon with his wife, Vivian Creighton-Bishop, at the Kelley Hill Dining Facility on post. “It’s good for the organizations in the military. It’s also good for the United States of America and the American taxpayers.”

At a time when the nation is facing increasing debt and unemployment, Bishop said controlling costs is a priority for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen. Every commander in every chain of command is now doing assessments and studying how to reduce costs efficiently to carry out the mission.

The deputy garrison commander at Fort Benning said last week that projections for BRAC are now down from 28,008 to 22,148. The reductions include soldiers, civilian government workers, spouses and children.

In addition to getting fewer people from BRAC, Fort Benning is facing a 15 percent reduction in its work force, a cost-saving move throughout the Army.

Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, was traveling and unavailable for comment late Thursday. Spokeswoman Elsie Jackson said officials are aware of possible budget cuts and doing more with less.

After listening to Mullen, the service chiefs and the Secretary of Defense, Bishop said officials are convinced that the military and the Defense Department can absorb the necessary cuts as a country and still be in a position to keep America’s military the strongest and best fighting force in the world.

“Our national security requires it,” Bishop said. “They are satisfied that we will have the necessary resources and personnel. With that said, plans are being made to have the reduction in force consistent with budgetary needs.”

Bishop -- who serves on the subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies, along with the subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies -- pointed to a drawdown of forces overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and the reorganization of forces in Europe.

“It streamlines our forces and gets rid of the fat,” he said.

Despite the cuts Army-wide, Bishop said the future is still bright for the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, the Infantry School and Armor School.

“We have some of the best and the brightest, the most creative folks in our military right here at Fort Benning and we will continue to have that,” he said. “These are essential missions that are conducted here at Fort Benning. They will have to be conducted into the future. I think the future of Fort Benning is strong.”

Creighton-Bishop, the guest speaker for the luncheon, focused on the contributions of 176,500 women serving in the Army. Women now make up 16 percent of the force.

“That is a huge number,” she told members of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team. “It certainly is a show of their strength and determination to be alongside our military to fight for our country.”

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