Part of the Army’s plan to reduce its active duty force from 570,000 to 490,000 includes new re-enlistment guidelines that tell commanders to keep only the best soldiers, said Col. Kevin Milton, U.S. Army Garrison commander for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
“Our Army’s plan is to reduce its brigade combat teams,” said Milton on Thursday as he spoke to Liberty County Chamber of Commerce members at its People Through Progress Luncheon. “There will be fewer enlistments but also new rules for re-enlisting soldiers. The Army expects us to retain only the best. We’re to thank the rest for their service, pat them on the back and send them out the door. If they’re not the best, we’re not to let them re-enlist.”
Milton said he expects the installation will meet its reduction goal by attrition and early retirement programs.
“The (Installation Management Command’s) Enterprise Placement Program is allowing our workforce to find jobs at places they’ve always wanted to go,” he said. “If you’ve always wanted to go to Camp Wherever, this is a chance to go there. This week alone, there were 100 positions announced through IEPP.”
Milton paused to emphasize that not only were the Army’s active-duty and civilian forces getting smaller, the Army’s budget also was shrinking. He talked about how the installation is saving money, including using both sides of paper for printing.
He said Fort Stewart has the second-largest timber program in the Army and that timber companies are only interested in the “middle” part of the trees. The installation bought a chipper and grinder and now heats the water treatment plant with wood-burning furnaces. The installation has not had to buy wood in more than a year, he said.
The Army constantly is improving its transition services, Milton said. The Army Career & Alumni Program is helping soldiers prepare for civilian life well before they leave the service, providing a soldier with interviewing and resume-writing skills as well as information about the job market, he said.
“He’s still a great American,” Milton said. “He’s not leaving our formation because he’s sorry. We provide him with job fairs and employer days where he can meet with perspective employers. We want to help fill your ranks with great Americans, and let them make contributions to your workplace.”
Milton concluded his comments after promoting plans for the annual Fourth of July celebration then local veterans groups like the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee, the Association of the U.S. Army and the Friends of Liberty and Fort Stewart. These organizations represent Fort Stewart and surrounding communities at Washington, D.C., reminding those who might not know what Fort Stewart and Coastal Georgia have to offer.
With nearly 75 percent of local residents connected to the installation as active-duty or retired soldiers, civilian employees or family members, he said it was in the best interests of all that Fort Stewart not lose out in future decisions about manpower cuts.
This was likely Milton’s last time addressing the chamber. He will be moving on to a new assignment following a change-of-command ceremony July 6, in which Col. Kevin Gregory will take over as Stewart-Hunter garrison commander.