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Secretary of Army has no solution for lost brigade
John M McHugh sec army
Army Secretary John McHugh - photo by U.S. Army photo
Last week’s meeting between the secretary of the Army and local proponents of troop increases for Fort Stewart revealed some measure of compensation may be possible for community investors and the Army post, but no promises were made.
In their meeting with Secretary of the Army John McHugh, representatives from the group Friends of Liberty and Fort Stewart pointed out that Hinesville and the surrounding community are prepared and able to accommodate growth now.
 “Both the public and private sector spent two years preparing for the influx of anticipated troops scheduled to begin arriving in early 2010,” said Clay Sikes, a member of Friends of Liberty and Fort Stewart.
Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, along with Rep. Jack Kingston, also went to bat for the community, explaining that absorbing a hit like the withdrawal of a promised fifth brigade is difficult, if not detrimental.
For the D.C. lawmakers representing Georgia and the Liberty County region, the meeting with McHugh is the highest level at which they’ve presented the issue, Sikes said. However, their involvement with meeting military needs extends to their service on Capitol Hill. Chambliss sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Kingston is on the Military Appropriations Committee.
“Though they all fought hard on behalf of Fort Stewart and have influence, ‘mitigation’ at Stewart is only now getting the attention it needs to cause action,” Sikes said.
He adds that while the secretary did not offer any solutions for the region and post, he did mention that Fort Stewart remains a possible site for the relocation of one of two European brigades expected to return from Germany in late 2013.
“Secretary McHugh did acknowledge that the Hinesville community needs assistance sooner rather than later, and he expressed a deep understanding of the disappointing nature of such a thing happening,” Sikes said. “The secretary serves at the pleasure of the president, and while he enjoys broad discretionary powers, a move of this level would require direction from the secretary of defense.”
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