In an official letter, U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, urged Army Secretary John McHugh to station additional troops at Fort Stewart. The senators and congressman asked McHugh to consider sending Fort Stewart a Heavy Brigade Combat Team that has been slated by the Defense Department to leave Germany and return to the United States in 2015.
The three lawmakers said Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield have been “transformed” into a “premier power projection and training platform along the East Coast.”
“From the perspective of military value — in addition to having the longest runway on the East Coast, Fort Stewart’s strategic location in southeast Georgia makes it easily accessible by road, rail and sea,” according to the letter. “Movement to ports takes place in hours versus days and weeks.”
Chambliss, Isakson and Kingston extolled Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield, describing the post as the “largest military installation east of the Mississippi River,” adding that military training is highly efficient due to its “digital multipurpose range training complex.”
“Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield also have no significant environmental-impact or encroachment issues. All environmental-impact statements were completed and validated in anticipation of the 46th BCT’s projected assignment to Fort Stewart,” the letter read.
Lawmakers also said the installation has the infrastructure necessary to welcome another brigade, noting the installation won the Army’s Community of Excellence award four times in the past six years.
“In addition, the Fort Stewart/Liberty County community invested in excess of $78 million in preparation for the anticipated new soldier arrivals in 2009, as noted in a study commissioned by the Secretary of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment,” the lawmakers wrote. “We do not want to see this community investment go to waste.”
The senators and congressman were referring to the cancellation nearly two years ago of a 4,000-soldier 5th Brigade Combat Team initially promised to Fort Stewart.
Paul Andreshak, the executive director of the Southeast Georgia Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter, said bringing more troops to the installation is, “something we’ve been working on since the cancellation of the (5th Brigade).”
Andreshak said his organization is “delighted” that Chambliss, Isakson and Kingston are continuing to follow through on these efforts.
“We hope we would be in the running at Fort Stewart,” he said Monday.” Hopefully we’ve proven over the last few years we’re very capable of taking care of additional soldiers at Fort Stewart and Hunter.”