Cuts may impact four key commands at Fort Benning

benw@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 22, 2013 

Joe Paull jpaull@ledger-enquirer.com The 14th Combat Support Hospital returned to Fort Benning Wednesday evening following a 9 month deployment to Afghanistan.

At least four key commands may be impacted if Fort Benning is required to cut 25 percent from its budget and personnel costs at the headquarters level.

Commands supporting infrastructure and training to medical care on post include the Installation Management Command, Training and Doctrine Command, the Army Materiel Command and the Army Medical Command. Budget totals from all the commands help make up the annual fiscal budget at the sixth largest post in the nation, but a dollar amount wasn’t available Thursday, a post official said.

Deep concerns over the post’s budget were acknowledged Wednesday when an Aug. 14 internal memo from Gen. Raymond Odierno and Secretary of the Army John McHugh directed cuts at installations with headquarter elements at the major general level and above. An Army Focus Area Review Group will make recommendations concerning consolidation and reduction of organizations, programs and functions no later than Sept. 11.

Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a two-star general, is commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence which includes the U.S. Armor and Infantry Schools. The post trains 35 percent of all soldiers entering the Army.

In the memo obtained by Defense News, there are seven focus areas which include Institutional Headquarters Reductions, Operational Headquarters Reductions, Operational Force Structure and Ramps, Readiness, Acquisition Work Force, Installation Services and Investments and Army C31 and Cyber.

Weekly updates on the recommendations are expected, starting this month. “Let there be no mistake, aggregate reductions will take place,” the memo states. “The money is gone; our mission now is to determine how best to allocate these cuts while maintaining readiness.”

The Training and Doctrine Command in Fort Eustis, Va., oversees training at 32 schools, including the two at Fort Benning. The post is expected to train 96,600 soldiers this fiscal year which ends Sept. 30. Even fewer trainees are projected for fiscal year 2014, beginning Oct. 1.

“One thing for sure, the Army is going to continue to need soldiers,” said Gary Jones, director of public affairs at Fort Benning. “We are the one to train the infantry and the armor, the rest of the soldiers the Army has to support. If we are going to have an Army, we’ve got to have a Fort Benning.”

Jones noted that many questions on the budget are still being actively considered at the Congressional level.

“Until they determine what the defense spending bill is, the rest of us have to wait and see,” he said.

Fort Benning will continue to train soldiers, but the future picture is unknown. “It’s just what the actual picture is going to look like, we really don’t know,” Jones said.

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