Less than two months after the Army outlined a restructuring plan for shrinking its active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers, the post slated to suffer the largest cut is preparing for its first departures.
Soldiers will begin leaving Fort Benning, Ga., this month, with departures continuing over the next nine months, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) said during a visit last week to the headquarters for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division (ID). The Army is converting the unit to an infantry battalion task force.
“I can’t give you the exact date,” Isakson, accompanied by Reps. Tom Graves (R) and Austin Scott (R), told reporters. “They are making the plans now.”
Under the plan the Army announced in July, Benning will lose about 3,400 soldiers on a net basis, a 29 percent drop. The Army’s plan calls for Fort Hood to lose 3,350 soldiers, the second-highest cut among affected installations.
“We came here to show the flag for Columbus, show the flag for the 3rd ID and make sure the Army knows that we want to know the justification for making the recommendations they made in terms of reducing the number of troops at Fort Benning,” Isakson said, reported the Ledger-Enquirer. “We understand they’ve got to reduce to 450,000 and we want to make sure we understand why Georgia and Texas are at a disproportionate number in terms of that.”
The senator also warned that if Congress fails to undo the Budget Control Act spending caps, the Army would be forced to make further cuts, reducing its end strength to 420,000. “We need to stop the bleeding and make a reinvestment in the national defense of our country by seeing to it, that doesn’t happen,” Isakson said.
Scott underscored the impact of the personnel reductions on service members as well as the surrounding community. “Our hope would be that anybody who is no longer serving that we would be able to provide job training and other types of assistance so that they would be able to find work and continue to take care of their families,” he said.