There will be no additional civilian workforce reduction in the Fort Benning Training and Doctrine Command this year, post officials announced Tuesday.
It’s good news, Maneuver Center of Excellence Commander Maj. Gen. Scott Miller said in a news release.
“This allows us to lessen the turmoil in our civilian workforce,” he said.
It was like “the Sword of Damocles” hanging over the workforce, Fort Benning Chief of Staff Col. Pat Donahoe said.
“This takes away a tremendous amount of angst,” Donahoe said. “This allows moral in the civilian workforce to improve and stability to return.”
TRADOC employs about 725 civilians who do jobs that range from training support and supply to administrative duties. The post was ordered to eliminate 235 civilian jobs in TRADOC over the last couple of years.
Officials said there are 4,200 civilian jobs on post.
“Two years ago when we received word of a series of cuts we were over-hired by 185 jobs,” Donahoe said. “This is a great news story through workforce management, incentives to retire early and the priority management program that put people in other jobs we were able to accomplish this.”
About 40 TRADOC employees were able to find jobs at Martin Army Community Hospital, Donahoe said.
Currently, there are about 30 civilian jobs in TRADOC that are considered over-hired.
“We can manage this much smaller number with being able to force people out of government service,” Donahoe said. “When you are talking about 180, you can’t do that.”
The news from Fort Benning follows the U.S. Army’s move to downsize from 570,000 troops to 450,000 in two phases. Fort Benning gained 400 troops in the initial cuts of about 80,000 Army-wide, but it was tagged to lose 3,402 positions in the second round, with the 3rd Brigade Armored Combat Team told last summer that it was being deactivated.
The actual number of filled soldier positions being eliminated fell to 2,200 or so due to normal attrition and the Army deciding not to staff yet another battalion that it planned to activate.
One piece of the puzzle that remained was how many civilian employees might be impacted by the budget cuts, with the military and Fort Benning being somewhat quiet about the process until Tuesday. The current news helps ease the pain of the losses that have already occurred locally in the military.
University of Georgia economist Jeff Humphreys said in an economic event in Columbus last month that the city was on track to lose about 1,000 jobs across the area this year, much of that a ripple effect from the U.S. Army’s budget cuts and downsizing at Fort Benning.
The housing market will suffer, according to the forecast, as will retailers, restaurants and anyone else who relies on spending by soldiers and military civilians to turn a profit. The 3rd Brigade is all but gone at Fort Benning, with the former warfighting unit completing its inactivation by this spring and taking an estimated $198 million in payroll with it, according to previous U.S. Maneuver Center of Excellence numbers.
Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce President Brian Anderson said the fact that the TRADOC civilian workforce will not be cut deeper is good news.
“It takes some of the pressure off,” Anderson said. “If we go out and do out and do our job recruiting new jobs and can get the expansion of some existing local companies, it will mean the aggregate impact on the economy will be positive.”