With the use of terms like sequestration, BRAC and budget cuts, it is easy to see and feel the concern in today’s Army.
Uncertainty also tends to cause concern among the American public, especially in areas that have large concentrations of military residents.
Downsizing or realignment of forces is something that has happened after all conflicts participated in by the Army since World War I. After Operation Desert Storm/Shield, the normal decrease in the military did occur but not as drastically as in the past. With Operation Enduring Freedom coming to a close, the government is looking to cut back on the military again. These cutbacks can spell trouble for a community that hosts the military.
Some of the most recent information we have on Liberty County dates from 2012. According to the Department of the Army, Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield has an economic impact of $5.6 billion on Southeast Georgia. As of September 2012, there were 31,557 active-duty and civilian employees at Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield.
The salaries of the 10,694 employed and living in Liberty County totaled $485,704,971, and the 8,726 on post totaled $410,489,521. These amounts can be viewed as deposited back into the local economy through the purchase of housing, food and numerous retail items.
Keeping those numbers in mind, it is easy to understand how a military presence has a strong effect on the health and well-being of the local economy.
Operation Enduring Freedom is a conflict America committed to that did not immediately increase the size of the military. This caused a lot of communities surrounding military installations to suffer from the rapid deployment that occurred. Recently, the government announced that the force-structure realignments are just for the current fiscal year and have nothing to do with the 2014 fiscal year or future years. With that stated, Fort Stewart/Hunter AAF may receive more budget cuts that will affect everyone.
Recent news about our installation is the Force Realignment initiative, current and future year proposed budget cuts that will have impact on our community. Now is our opportunity to show the Army and the Department of Defense what our soldiers mean to us and our community. We have to show that having a strong military is important, not only to have our men and women prepared for any future threat, but also for continued economic stability.
Imagine the impression we would make when the policy makers see this entire community willing to stand tall right alongside our soldiers. The men and women on Fort Stewart and Hunter might not call this community their hometown, but they are ours just the same, and we are concerned about our neighbors and friends.
Southeast Georgia Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter (SEGAFOFSH) is the coastal region’s leading membership organization supporting the diverse interests of the communities, the private sector and the military on issues of mission enhancement. For more information and to get involved, go to www.friendsofftstewartandhunter.com.
Hughes is the finance assistant for the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.