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Local Lawmakers React to Military Cuts

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HINESVILLE, GA -

Today, the Army Chief of Staff announced the elimination of at least twelve active combat brigades.

The change will not be immediate.

But by 2017, the Army will see a draw down from 570,000 soldiers to 490,000 soldiers.

Fort Stewart officials say it's a shift that will mean a loss of approximately 14-hundred fort Stewart soldiers.

It's a new development that officials say is not to be mistaken for sequestration.

In a city like Hinesville, this news comes as a blow and raises many questions.

Fourteen-hundred positions may not seem like a lot, but today I sat down with Hinesville City Manager, Billy Edwards who says this has the potential to put many people in the city and surrounding areas in a tight spot.

"We don't know what this means for us long term."

But what Edwards does know is that the cuts announced Tuesday were completely unexpected.

"We are disappointed. We know that Fort Stewart and Hunter are premiere power projection platforms for the Army. We were really in a position where we thought we would gain as a result of this, and we were not expecting an announcement of this type at this point in time period."

By 2017, Fort Stewart will lose one of its three combat brigades, each with an estimated five or six thousand soldiers. For Senator Buddy Carter, budget woes are an unfortunate reality.

"Obviously we appreciate the military, but it is a sign we know what's happening in Washington. There's going to be cuts to the military; gotta prepare for it. Hopefully we will continue to do things like we did this year with the Armstrong project to reach out to these folks who will be leaving the Military--- or who will be in a position where they will be looking for other things to do."

But for Edwards, it hits home in many ways.

"Fort Stewart, Hinesville, Liberty County and the surrounding counties; Fort Stewart is linked to our community. They live in our neighborhoods, go to church, their kids go to school with our children. They are a part of our community."

And while this might be a step back for our nation's military, he says he knows Fort Stewart has a bright future.

"We think there is some capacity at Fort Stewart to grow; we still believe that's the case. Not sure what was in the decision that was ultimately made. Disappointed again, but I am not going to question the Army in general, and Fort Stewart specifically. We are great supporters of the Army and Fort Stewart."

The army says by reorganizing its brigade combat teams it will reduce the overall number of headquarters, while still sustaining as much combat capability as possible.

Today's big announcement sparked quick response from Georgia lawmakers.

Senator Saxby Chambliss had this to say -- "While I am disappointed to hear the Army plans to inactivate one of Fort Stewart's combat brigades, I understand the Army is doing their best in difficult circumstances.

Although these cuts are not ideal, I remain focused on working with my colleagues in the senate to prevent any additional cuts from sequestration."

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson replied: "While I am disappointed to hear of the plan to eliminate a brigade combat team at Fort Stewart, I understand the Army is responding to its changing mission and to the requirements of the Budget Control Act of 2011, to reduce spending and reduce our debt. It is important to note that Fort Stewart will still be home to nineteen-thousand

soldiers and their families. That's four-thousand more troops than were stationed at Fort Stewart prior to September 11, 2001."

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