UPDATE: Fort Benning slated for cuts by Department of Defense

Fort Benning slated for cuts by Department of Defense

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM ) - As the threat against America's freedom continues to rise from anti militant groups such as ISIS, the U.S. military is still shrinking its manpower.

In a report released from USA Today, 40,000 soldiers will lose their jobs by 2017. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia also issued a statement on Wednesday saying he'd learned information from the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh.

According to Isakson, McHugh indicated that the reduction in Army forces included cuts of 4,340 soldiers from military installations in Georgia as part of the Department of Defense's plan to reduce the Army nationwide.

Isakson added that Fort Benning is slated to lose 3,400 soldiers while Fort Stewart's troops would be reduced by 950 soldiers.

Isakson released this statement:

 "I am demanding answers from the Department of Defense on how they are justifying these troop cuts in Georgia. I have also taken steps to block a Senate vote on the president's nomination of a new congressional liaison for the Department of Defense in light of the Department's failure to give Congress a heads up before these cuts were made public. I have talked in great detail with Secretary McHugh today and will continue to fight to see to it that we preserve every soldier in Georgia that we can," said Isakson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "We cannot afford to reduce our military readiness at a time when the threats to our security here at home and throughout the world are growing at an alarming rate. Instead, we should be using our military to send a clear signal to the rest of the world that America has no intention of standing down in the fight against the threat of terrorism worldwide."

You may recall, Fort Benning managed to escape cuts in 2013 following a mass reduction of 80,000 soldiers. This was called the sequestration-automatic spending cuts to the US federal government. In fact, Fort Benning gained an additional 76 soldiers that year instead of incurring cuts.

"I think the cuts are absolutely ludicrous at a time when we're facing the greatest most volatile, unstable political environment that's ever existed in our world, we're in the process of reducing our military," stated Gary Jones, Executive Vice President Military Affairs for the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

Jones was instrumental in galvanizing a team of supporters for Fort Benning who rallied to keep the post's force in tact two years ago.

Now, the military is looking to dwindle its troops from 570,000 to 490,000 over the next two years. An official announcement is expected on Thursday.

Congressman Sanford Bishop had this to say about the cuts:

Our national security should not be held hostage by sequestration. Due to the Majority's avoidable budget caps, the Army is being forced to reduce troop strength, training, and readiness. I believe it will adversely affect families and businesses around the Chattahoochee Valley. Congress must redouble its efforts to lift the budget caps and adequately fund all our nation's strategic needs.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland had this to say about the cuts:

The contributions of Fort Benning and the 3rd Infantry Division are indispensable to our national defense. When the threat to our national security is growing daily, we need to make sure our defense programs are strong and our troops are fully supported. However, this administration has chosen to jeopardize our military readiness and I have repeatedly expressed my opposition on cutting back our troops. 

United States taxpayers have invested billions in making Fort Benning the impressive facility it is today, and cutting this program back is a waste of taxpayer dollars and the valuable resources this base has to offer. We must remain focused on ensuring our military is prepared to combat the threats we face across the globe and protecting the crucial role Fort Benning plays in our national defense strategy.

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