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Kingston tells chamber of Army's benefits
3rd ID's role crucial
AW KingstonChamber2
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) talks politics with members of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce during the group's Annual Awards Meeting and Dinner. 2007 Chamber Board President Gary Walker is at the head table. - photo by Andrea Washington / Coastal Courier
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) talked Fort Stewart finances, ongoing conflict in Iraq and preserving Liberty County's history during the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner last week.
Serving as the keynote speaker, the congressman told local business people the current financial impact of the 3rd Infantry Division and expected future impact of an additional 3,900 soldiers planned for the post in 2011 continues to make Liberty County fertile for business.
"With up to 16,000 soldiers, 24,000 family members, 2,500 civilian employees and a payroll of about $750 million for soldiers and a little over $120 million for civilian employees, that's an economic impact to our area of $1.3 billion," Kingston said.
"I think one of the things the Chamber should an interest in making sure that as much of that money as possible is spent locally."
The continuing war in Iraq, shows the importance of the 3rd ID reaches beyond the financial reward it brings to the community, Kingston said.
"Fort Stewart is really not about the economic impact to us - as much as we benefit from it - it is about freedom...I've been to Iraq three times and I'm proud to say that what the 3rd ID is doing over there is absolutely making a difference," he said.
The lawmaker said "the before and after surge picture is significant" in Iraq, noting U.S. troops have trained more than 440,000 Iraqis, and cut attacks by 60 percent and civilian deaths by 75 percent.
With public opinion on America's involvement in Iraq continuing to be a divisive issue in the 2008 election year, the lawmaker said he is also ready to bring the troops home, just not before the mission is complete.
"I, like you, would like to see the 3rd Infantry come home and stay home. And, I believe that we are moving in that direction," Kingston said. "The one thing (3rd ID Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch) is always reminding us of is that we don't want to leave the job when they're not ready to takeover. We've got to complete what we've done."
Kingston ended by pledging to work with local business and political leaders to rejuvenate interest in the county's influence on American history, including the Fort Morris Revolutionary War site, which he believes could lead to economic boom in tourism.
"I believe if we go back, really research it, excavate it and restore a lot of the things and reconstruct (Fort Morris), it would be the story that would make this are the Philadelphia of the southern part of the United States," he said.
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