GA lawmakers look to expand Ft. Benning's appeal to government - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

GA lawmakers look to expand Ft. Benning's appeal to government

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)

The threat of military base and post closures, along with very real budget cuts and downsizing, is prompting U.S. lawmakers in Georgia to be proactive in showing the worth and necessity of places like Fort Benning.

"Just go around the state, Georgia's got a significant investment in each one of the branches of the military and it's important that we preserve it," said Senator Johnny Isakson.

On Tuesday, the Georgia Military Affairs Study Committee met to discuss what growth is in store for the Maneuver Center of Excellence.

Fort Benning Commander Major General Eric Wesley was there, along with a slew of other representatives. Leaders with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce also addressed the group about the threat of military cuts along with how Columbus can prepare for growth or more downsizing.

"We know that there's going to be continued efficiency drives, ways to cut costs and so we want to make sure our installations, us particularly in our region, to make sure we're prepared to help Fort Benning," said Brian Anderson, CEO of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

The push comes after a steady decline in military spending over the last few years. It is something that Senator Isakson says could leave us vulnerable to overseas threats.

"We are down to 450 troops and shrinking in the United States Army, Fort Benning has been cut back by an entire Brigade combat team, we lost 2,500 more jobs in a re-alignment that took place last year, our military is getting so small we're not really prepared to defend our country, much less in being aggressive going after ISIL," said Isakson.

"It goes as far as making sure an airfield is prepared for a mission, to also making sure our school systems are providing the level of education for our soldier's children. So, it's a combination, big process, but the end of it ought to be how we make Fort Benning continue to add value both in the national defense perspective and economically to our region," said Anderson.

Marketing Kelly Hill and the extensive tank trails on post are just two ways lawmakers say Benning can grow and provide more resources to the Department of Defense.

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