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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Following Cuts at Ft. Benning, Chamber Launches Campaign to Overturn Budget Caps

  • July 14, 2015
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The Greater Columbus (Ga.) Chamber of Commerce is launching an initiative to eliminate the statutory caps on defense spending which prompted the Army last week to outline how it would eliminate 40,000 troops, including 3,400 at Fort Benning, by the end of fiscal 2018, the chamber said Monday. The chamber will pursue an aggressive campaign through a variety of elements, including public service ads on TV, radio and billboards; a website that will have updates, articles and videos; and an online petition in support of Fort Benning. The effort is intended to protect the post and the surrounding region from future cutbacks spurred by the Budget Control Act limits, as well as highlight its unique assets …

Fate of Pilot Test of Commissary Privatization Still up for Grabs

  • July 14, 2015
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A Senate effort to torpedo a provision in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization directing DOD to privatize up to five commissaries through a two-year pilot program appears to have been unsuccessful, leaving the issue to be settled in conference. During its debate of the annual policy bill last month, the Senate passed an amendment intended to strip out the language calling for the pilot. The amendment would have required the department to assess the costs and benefits of privatizing military grocery stores prior to launching the test. But because of the procedure employed to pass the amendment, the original language remains in the measure …

Defense Bill Conference Talks on Fast Track

  • July 14, 2015
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Members of the House-Senate conference committee negotiating a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill are hoping to finish talks by next week. Many issues remain unresolved, but committee leaders are sufficiently optimistic that conferees will continue to makes steady progress that a vote by the House has been tentatively scheduled for July 24, reported CQ Roll Call. Committee members had been scheduled to meet at the subcommittee level last week to reconcile the two versions of the legislation, but those talks were cancelled due to floor votes. Those negotiations will continue this week …

Executives Concerned about Impact of Ft. Benning Cuts on Local Real Estate Market

  • July 12, 2015
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The conversion of a brigade combat team at Fort Benning into a much smaller maneuver battalion task force as the Army eliminates 40,000 active-duty soldiers over the next three years will harm most sectors of the economy of Columbus, Ga., and surrounding areas. Real estate executives are particularly concerned about the pending loss of 3,402 soldiers at the post. “When you talk about 3,400 troops and then the civilians that will go with that, probably around 2,000, it’s pretty devastating to the apartment investment community,” said Will White, a partner in the Columbus-based apartment development and management company Greystone Properties …

Four Installations Slated for Modest Gains under Army Restructuring

  • July 12, 2015
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With only six installations slated to lose more than 1,000 soldiers as a result of the Army’s latest round of restructuring, many of the 30 communities bracing for severe cuts in personnel were greatly relieved that local installations would suffer a reduction of no more than 400 military personnel. “Today’s announcement could have been much worse, in light of the president’s plan to reduce our military end strength by 40,000 troops,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said last week after the Army announced that Fort Polk would lose 388 soldiers …

Summer Announcement on Army Downsizing Could Influence Congressional, DOD Deliberations

  • July 12, 2015
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The Army’s announcement as to what installations would absorb the loss of 40,000 soldiers to accommodate discretionary spending caps may have been timed to produce a favorable outcome for the service when lawmakers begin taking up the defense budget, according to several analysts. “One likely reason for the timing is they’re trying to refocus attention on themselves and the cut in hopes of maybe getting this cut reversed or preventing additional ones,” Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told CQ Roll Call. Beyond the debate in Congress over fiscal 2016 defense appropriations and next year’s authorization bill, the Army also is looking to influence Pentagon discussions over initial drafts of the FY 2017 budget …

Senate Votes to Go to Conference with House on Policy Bill

  • July 12, 2015
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The Senate on Thursday agreed to form a conference committee with the House to hash out a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, marking the first time since 2012 that Congress has formally convened a House-Senate conference on the annual policy bill. Before approving the motion, the Senate rejected a Democratic proposal to instruct conferees to shift $38 billion in overseas contingency operations funds back to DOD’s base budget. Both versions of the authorization bill follow the GOP budget framework which calls for stashing tens of billions of extra dollars in the department’s war account to elude the statutory spending caps. Democrats have opposed that maneuver in an attempt to strike a budget deal with Republicans to lift the budget caps on both defense and non-defense spending …

Communities Likely to Recover from Loss of Military Presence, Researcher Says

  • July 12, 2015
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As about two dozen communities contemplate the impact of the Army’s announcement last week about new force reductions, a Cato Institute researcher highlights the ability of regions coping with significant cuts in military spending to bounce back. “Communities do adapt and recover, some more quickly than others, and many emerge after the transition period with a robust and more diversified economic base,” Christopher Preble, Cato’s vice president for defense and foreign policy studies, writes in a blog post. Preble’s preliminary conclusion comes at approximately the midway point of a research project assessing how communities responded after local bases were closed through either the BRAC process or other means. He also is looking at the impact of the closure of privately owned and operated facilities that primarily supplied DOD customers …

Congressional Tide Has Turned on BRAC, Smith Says

  • July 10, 2015
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Congressional opposition to approving a new round of base closures is loosening, even as this year’s Congress has resisted the Obama administration’s request for a BRAC in 2017, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday. “The hostility, the notion that this was completely unacceptable, which existed about a year ago is not there anymore amongst my fellow members is the way I would put it,” Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the most prominent advocate in Congress for a BRAC round, told reporters. Smith dismissed all of the standard arguments, saying they had run their course …

Communities Dodge Worst Case Scenarios as Army Spreads out Force Reductions

  • July 10, 2015
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All but a few Army installations will be able to avoid dramatic force reductions after the service on Thursday announced its latest round of restructuring needed to shrink its active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers in response to stringent spending caps imposed since fiscal 2013. The supplemental programmatic environmental assessment the Army released in June 2014 listed 30 installations that potentially could lose an aggregate of between 2,500 and 16,000 military and civilian personnel by the end of this second round of personnel cuts, but the bulk of communities avoided the worst case outcomes. Only three installations would lose more than 2,500 military personnel, and only six would lose more than 1,000 soldiers …

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