Columbus mayor, council to oppose possible cuts at Fort Benning

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Columbus Council are expected to approve a resolution Tuesday opposing any move to reduce the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning.

“We hereby express our strong opposition to any effort to reduce the strength of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team at Fort Benning and urge all Columbus citizens and other interested persons to contact their Congressional representatives to oppose such a measure,” the resolution declares.

Action from the mayor and 10-member council comes less than a week after officials of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce asked area residents Monday to voice concerns on the possible cuts. The move stems from the Army’s Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment which was released Jan. 18 and called for reducing the force from 562,000 to 490,000 soldiers.

In a cost cutting measure, eight brigades will be deactivated, with two coming from units in Europe and six from 21 U.S. installations. The 3rd Brigade is attached to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart.

At Fort Benning, losing the brigade could impact 7,100 soldiers and civilian jobs, including 3,900 soldiers and 3,200 civilians workers. Adding 3,950 spouses and 6,791 dependent children would increase that total to 17,800.

Tomlinson said Saturday the resolution is the best way to send a message on the impact.“All 10 councilors and the mayor want to sent this message,” she said. “It is the most powerful way to send a message to Washington D.C.”

The mayor said support for the resolution should be unanimous.

Councilors C.E. “Red” McDaniel and Jerry “Pops” Barnes said they both support the measure.

“We just feel like it would be a blow to Columbus if we lost the brigade,” McDaniel said. “We just hope it will stay here and they don’t cut it.”

Barnes has a close connection to the Army, retiring as a master sergeant and serving twice at Fort Benning’s Martin Army Community Hospital.“To remove it is a substantial impact to Fort Benning and to Columbus,” Barnes said of the possible loss. “We are 150 percent opposed to something like this.”

Tomlinson said a copy of the resolution will be sent to the Congressional delegation and to the Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The mayor and Columbus Council meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday for a work session and proclamation session on the plaza level of the Government Center.