Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Gregory believes the troops at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield are in a “good position” when it comes to force restructure and sequestration.
Gregory gave that message to members of the Rotary Club of Richmond Hill on Thursday during its weekly meeting at the Richmond Hill City Center, where he discussed sequestration and a recent study released by the Army that addresses a potential reduction of 8,000 troops at the post.
The study, which Gregory referred to as a PEA, or programmatic environmental assessment, is being driven by a total Army analysis, he said. The PEA was released in January and looks at force restructure at 21 military installations across the Army. At Fort Stewart it looks at a reduction of 8,000 as well as an increase of 3,000.
“There is no guarantee that we won’t lose troops at Fort Stewart, but I would say the odds are that probably we will not be losing any soldiers at Fort Stewart any time soon based on the total Army analysis,” Gregory said.
He explained the study is “really an assessment on the community as a whole and on the installation and how it can handle transition of forces in the Army.”
“This just happens to be near or at the same time as sequester … so people get that confused (and think) the Army is saying we’re losing 8,000 troops at Fort Stewart — not the case,” he said.
“Personally, and I don’t have any inside information unfortunately … I think Fort Stewart and Hunter is in a very strong position,” he said. “One, we have room for space and we have room to expand our troop base without any type of land acquisition and I believe the Army sees it that way as well.”
The PEA is open for public comment right now, Gregory said, and any decision made based on the study should be announced between April and May.
He also addressed sequestration with Rotarians, noting with only a few days until Congress made a decision, tensions are high.
“There is a lot of angst about this, and rightfully so if there would be an impact on Fort Stewart,” he said. “Really we don’t have any higher level guidance as to what that would be yet.”
Gregory also mentioned the furlough of 251,000 Department of Defense employees that was announced recently.
“When you do the math for our local folks here at Fort Stewart and Hunter, that’s 20 percent of their pay for the year they will lose if they’re furloughed,” he said. “We are … in the initial planning stages for a furlough for our folks. They know that, we communicate every day with our workforce.”
Read more in the Feb. 23 edition of the News.