News Column

Federal Cuts Loom for Military

July 23, 2012

Gordon Jackson

military cuts

Most Americans support the Budget Control Act passed by Congress to control spending and reduce the deficit, but the plan for $1.2 trillion in federal cuts could be painful to Georgia's 1st Congressional District.

The cuts, which go into effect in January, are expected to cost the state more than 54,000 federal jobs, with about half targeting Department of Defense jobs.

Tim Wessinger, spokesman for the Brunswick office of U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, said it's uncertain how federal installations such as Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Fort Stewart and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick will be affected.

Some, if not most of the cuts, will come through a process called "sequestration," which imposes cuts across the board for military spending.

"(The Department of Defense) maintains that they are not doing any detailed planning for sequestration," Wessinger said. "Without planning and analysis, we don't know what could be affected."

So far, the Army is the only service that has made public statements about potential personnel cuts, Wessinger said. If sequestration is imposed, Army officials will have to cut 50,000 civilian jobs and 50,000 military jobs.

The Army has not revealed how it would accomplish the cuts.

More than 22,000 troops are stationed at Fort Stewart, which is in Liberty County near Hinesville.

Sheila McNeill, former national president of the Navy League, said the Department of Defense has very little control over the cuts that will be imposed across the board.

But she is concerned about the impact to Kings Bay, which has 5,244 active duty sailors, 2,063 civilian employees and 1,672 contractors.

"It really is going to be devastating," she said. "I haven't heard anyone give a solution to this."

Because most of the submarines at Kings Bay have a strategic mission in preventing a nuclear attack, McNeill said the base may not be impacted as much as other military installations.

"I heard there could be some exceptions," she said. "It may affect some of the civilian workforce."

Chris Daniel, executive director of the Camden County Chamber of Commerce, said the potential of Kings Bay losing jobs is a big concern.

"Based on the information I've received, the cuts are across the board," Daniel said. "It's not a good situation. You hope you can find another way for a cost savings."

Source: (c)2012 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.). Distributed by MCT Information Services

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