On Wednesday, July 8, the Pentagon announced its intention to cut 950 troops at Fort Stewart as part of the Department of Defense’s plans to reduce the Army nationwide from the current level of 490,000 soldiers to 450,000 soldiers by the end of 2017. Fort Stewart is one of two Georgia bases affected in what many expect will be the first wave of troop cuts. Fort Benning in Columbus will see a loss of 3,400 soldiers. Although this number is less devastating than the original reports made in the last year that identified Ft. Stewart/HAAF as an installation that could see cuts as large as 16,000 soldiers, reductions of any number is disappointing.
The Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield represents approximately $5.2 billion a year in direct economic impact to the area. In addition, Fort Stewart/HAAF are uniquely equipped and strategically located with large training areas, protected airspace, modern facilities and a network of deployment options through nearby ports, rail systems and airports. For the last decade, the Savannah Area Chamber has worked closely with the cities of Beaufort, Hinesville and Savannah as well as Chatham County, the Savannah Economic Development Authority and other partners to actively remind the Pentagon of the installation’s true significance during previous Base Realignment and Closures as well as offer protection from encroachment issues and offer support of military families during times of deployment.
Although our involvement has been significant, there is no greater time than now to continue working together in effort to preserve our community’s military value.