State, Local Officials Brace for Pending Budget Cuts

While local and state officials from across the country fret about the potential for substantial reductions in defense spending over the coming years, many defense communities already are coping with major budget cuts.

Workers at Fort Benning, Ga., are anxious about plans to cut the post’s civilian payroll in the new fiscal year by 15 percent, reported the Kansas City Star. Officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., have put in place a hiring freeze and indicated that spending reductions are on the way.

State officials, meanwhile, are equally concerned about the prospect that the nation’s force structure will be significantly scaled back. John Nicholson, the military affairs adviser to North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue (D), said the likelihood of downsizing loomed over the recent series of regional summits Perdue hosted at military communities across the state.

“We know that the Marine Corps is going to reduce the size of force structure once we get out of Afghanistan. We don’t know what that number is going to be, but we know there will be a reduction,” Nicholson told the paper.

In response to the possibility that the Pentagon will suffer spending cuts approaching $1 trillion over the next decade, Rep. Norm Dicks (Wash.), a longtime proponent of defense spending and the top-ranked Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said, “There’s no way to speculate what would happen. But I think at some point — if there are cuts of that magnitude — there would have to be a reduction in force.”

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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