Fort Benning: No decision yet on 25 percent cuts from budget, personnel costs

benw@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 2, 2013 

Joe Paull Friends and family members of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division stand quietly on balcony as they watch their soldiers line up for a roll call before deploying on a 9-month tour to Kuwait.

A decision has not been made on whether Fort Benning will be subjected to an Army directive to cut 25 percent from its budget and personnel costs.

"The final decision has not been made yet, but we hope to get a decision in the near future," said Gary A. Jones, director of public affairs for the Maneuver Center of Excellence.

Fort Benning, home of the Infantry School and Armor School, and other installations across the nation were sent an Aug. 14 memo from Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno and Secretary of the Army John McHugh calling for the cuts at the headquarters level and above.

Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a two-star general, is the commander at Fort Benning, the sixth largest post in the nation. His command staff includes a brigadier general and a colonel promotable to the one-star general rank leading the Armor and Infantry schools.

A deadline for the review is set for Sept. 11. The fiscal 2014 budget starts almost three weeks later on Oct. 1.

Jones said any decision on the directive would come from Washington. He didn't know if the announcement will be before the fiscal budget goes into effect.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, has been aware of the Army cuts spelled out in the memo. Bishop said last week that he didn't know anything about changes. Bishop's 2nd Congressional District includes south Columbus and Fort Benning.

If the post remains part of the directive, cuts would impact commands supporting infrastructure and training to medical care on post. They include the Installation Management Command, Training and Doctrine Command, the Army Materiel Command and the Army Medical Command.

Within the commands, cuts would be considered from seven areas that include Institutional Headquarters Reductions; Operational Headquarters Reductions; Operational Force Structure and Ramps; Readiness; Acquisition Work Force; Installation Services and Investment; and Army C31 and Cyber.

The training and Doctrine Command in Fort Eustis, Va., oversees training at 32 schools, including two at Fort Benning.

The post is expected to train 96,600 soldiers this fiscal year ending Sept. 30. That total is expected to drop further for fiscal year 2014.

-- Staff writer Larry Gierer contributed to this report.

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