Breakdown of Fort Benning downsizing

Breakdown of Fort Benning downsizing

A threat to national security, and potentially devastating effects on military towns are just some of the fears expressed by military and community leaders across the country and here in the Valley, as the reality of sequestration begins to set in.

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - "We have to continue to protect the nation and we will, I know that we have to continue to prepare our young men and women who we put in harm's way in places like Afghanistan and Korea, in the gulf, we have to prepare them," said General Martin Dempsey, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey's messages resound once more at the start of this year, as he called downsizing absolutely crazy, a threat to national security, and a road block in meeting global commitments.

"We can't have a functional army when we get down to a number like 420,000," said Gary Jones, Executive V.P. of Military Affairs in Columbus.

However, despite local and national concern, plans to reduce the army from 450,000 troops to 420,000 are now underway.
Third Infantry Division officials tell us there has already been a cut of 150 soldiers since July. Of the 4,452 Third Brigade soldiers at Benning, 3,402 positions will be cut, leaving thousands of soldiers to be reassigned.

Third Infantry Division officials tell us a little more than 1,000 will stick around, forming an infantry battalion task force- but local experts still expect hundreds of millions of dollars in lost salaries and sales for our region.

"The end result is the army is getting smaller as a result of the budget," said Jones.

It's something people in the valley aren't happy about. In a story we brought you earlier this week on downsizing effects on the Columbus housing market, people took to Facebook to express concerns, with messages like "we need our military here" and "end sequestration."

Congress currently face a budget deal deadline on October 1st. If Republicans and Democrats don't reach an agreement, a government shutdown could effect soldier's paychecks.

"During a government shutdown, all military personnel would continue in a normal duty status, however, they would not be paid until Congress provides funding," said Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work in a memo sent to troops and civilian employees.

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