KINGSTON STATEMENT ON FT STEWART BRIGADE ANNOUNCEMENTListen to Kingston's statement
Isakson, Chambliss denounce decision
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss today denounced the decision by the Department of Defense to officially stop the growth of the Brigade Combat Teams at 45, instead of the 48 Brigade Combat Teams originally planned. Georgia's Fort Stewart was expected to receive the 46th brigade combat team.
"This is absolutely the wrong decision, and I am deeply disappointed by today's announcement. When a community works as hard as the Friends of Liberty and Fort Stewart have worked to prepare for an expansion of the local installation, it is absolutely critical to be able to rely on the military's word. " Isakson said. "I will continue to work with the Georgia congressional delegation to ensure that Fort Stewart receives one of the brigades that the Army plans to move back to the states from Europe. With its strategic location and strong community support, Fort Stewart is still the ideal place to grow the U.S. Army."
"I am extremely disappointed by this decision. I consider this decision to be a breach of contract between the Department of Defense and the Fort Stewart community," said Chambliss, a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee. "For the last several years the city of Hinesville, as well as other communities that make up the Friends of Liberty, have invested their time, energy and money into preparing to receive this additional brigade. Last minute decisions like this jeopardize the trust and support that is key to building a strong military installation and a local community bond. I will continue to work with my fellow delegation members to ensure the Department of Defense and the Army give Ft. Stewart full consideration for all future basing decisions to include the rebasing of units currently stationed in Europe."
Isakson and Chambliss have been in constant communication with Secretary of the Army Pete Geren since the original announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Both Isakson and Chambliss plan to meet with John McHugh, Obama's nominee to replace Secretary Geren, to discuss Fort Stewart.
"This isn't just an emotional disappointment but an economic one as well. For three years now, ever since the Base Realignment and Closure Commission announced that Fort Stewart would pick up a new brigade, the community, bankers and developers have all been building the infrastructure as has the U.S. Army on the post itself.
"For the Secretary to change his mind in the eleventh hour after all the money has been invested, really hurts this area economically. On top of a very poor economy, that's the last kick in the teeth anybody needs. We need to get the Pentagon to realize the devastation is not just emotional but economic. We're going to do everything we can to get some other troops or missions into Fort Stewart to make up for this.
"The upcoming hearings to confirm President Obama's nominee to replace Secretary Geren with Congressman John McHugh (R/NY-23) will provide an opportunity to seek a commitment and raise awareness of the great investments made to prepare for the brigade promised under BRAC. Having served with Secretary-Designate McHugh, I will make sure Fort Stewarts growth is one of his top priorities and will be meeting with him later today."
In the weeks since Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the announcement that the Army would grow to 45 brigades, rather than the originally planned 48, Congressman Kingston has worked with local, national and defense leaders to highlight the importance of Fort Stewart to the Army's strategic goals and the large investment made by the community in preparation for the brigade.
Congressman Kingston has spoken repeatedly with Secretary Geren and, most recently, led Georgia's entire U.S. House delegation in calling on the Defense Department to continue with plans to locate a new brigade at Fort Stewart. He also used a recent hearing of the House Defense Appropriations Committee with Defense Secretary Gates to continue the fight for Fort Stewart.