Columbus relieved as Fort Benning spared from cuts
by Associated Press Wire
June 26, 2013 09:30 AM | 384 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — Columbus leaders are breathing a sigh of relief after the U.S. Army spared Fort Benning from troop reductions, easing concerns that spending cuts at the base could ripple through the regional economy.

While the fort would gain 76 jobs as a result of the restructuring, local officials were mainly relieved it did not suffer big cuts. For months, a local coalition had lobbied defense officials to keep the facility's jobs.

Gary Jones, an economic and military affairs executive at the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, said the group emphasized that U.S. taxpayers and the local community had invested too heavily in Fort Benning during the last Base Realignment and Closure process to reduce the facility's usage now. New rail heads were built at the fort. The U.S. Armor School also transferred from Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Benning.

In Columbus, local officials were concerned about reductions to the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and its 3,850 soldiers and 3,200 civilian workers.

"United States taxpayers have invested over $3.5 billion in Fort Benning with the recent BRAC growth, and that is an investment and an asset that should be optimized," Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said, according to the (http://bit.ly/136hXR7 ) Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. "As we continue on over the next months, and perhaps years, with sequester talk, we certainly hope that that investment and resource continues to be valued."

Cuts struck communities elsewhere in the state. Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia would shrink by 1,400 soldiers, or nearly 7 percent of its total troops, under a plan the Army announced Tuesday to reduce its forces as the U.S. winds down its involvement in wars overseas.

"The possibility of losing a brigade from Fort Benning was real, and I thank the Columbus community, including the chamber, on all its efforts in averting an adverse conclusion," U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Columbus, said in a statement. "I stood with the city in our advocacy for Columbus and now stand with the city in thanking Army Leadership for the particularly positive outcome of their decision."

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Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, http://ledger-enquirer.com



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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