A community-based support group for Fort Benning, Ga., has joined a new coalition aiming to stave off further budget-driven cuts in the Army’s force structure.
Fort Polk Progress and Friends of Fort Campbell launched the campaign last month with the goal of gaining the support of other Army communities.
Last week Gary Jones, chief of staff of the Columbus Chattahoochee Coalition, said his organization would meet with Fort Polk Progress shortly to help craft an advocacy plan and strategy to expand the coalition in response to President Obama’s fiscal 2017 defense budget.
“We have a two-year budget and some temporary relief from sequestration,” Jones said, according to a press release from Fort Polk Progress. “Meanwhile, Army force structure has been hammered since the Army 2020 process started in 2013. We need a commitment from the Department of Defense and Congress that these cuts are over and we will have more stability in the force,” he said.
The effort closely follows the Army’s latest round of restructuring, which will trim its active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers by the end of FY 2018. The Army has said that it would be forced to shrink its end strength to 420,000 if the Budget Control Act spending caps remain in place. The new two-year budget deal, however, provides for $56 billion in defense spending above the caps over the FY 2016-2017 period, and possibly could delay further cuts in Army end strength.
“The Army has been forced to cut its force structure from 570,000 soldiers to 450,000 soldiers, during a time that our Army continues to take on increased responsibilities around the world,” said Mike Reese, chairman of Fort Polk Progress. “We do not believe the Army has the advocacy it deserves. That has to change and developing a national coalition can help,” he said.