Col. Kevin Gregory, U.S. Army Garrison commander for Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, spoke Tuesday at the Hinesville Rotary Club’s weekly luncheon at the La Quinta Inn.
Rotarian George Holtzman introduced Gregory by saying his role as garrison commander was comparable to that of a mayor of a large city.
“You don’t spend 24 years in the Army and become a garrison commander without doing something right,” Holtzman said
Gregory began by teasing his wife, Brenda, about Holtzman’s flattering introduction.
“I like to have my bio read every once in a while, especially when my wife is with me,” he said, producing laughter throughout the room.
Brenda Gregory quickly responded from her table, saying her garrison commander-husband could “still take out the trash, just like everybody else.” Her remarks drew even more laughter.
The colonel made a PowerPoint presentation that introduced the 3rd Infantry Division’s rear detachment command team; Col. John Hort, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear; and Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Pegues, 3rd ID command sergeant major-rear. He then explained his role as garrison commander, which is to provide support for Stewart-Hunter tenant units.
Gregory said Stewart-Hunter’s annual economic impact on area communities is $5.2 billion. While noting that one of his daughters attends middle school in Liberty County, he said the federal government pays impact funds for every military child enrolled in local public schools. He said schools with children of National Guard and Reserve soldiers also qualify for these funds.
Gregory displayed a map of the region of current conflicts, noting the 3rd ID’s 3rd Armor Brigade Combat Team stationed at Fort Benning is deployed to Kuwait, where it stands ready to react to hotspots in the region. The map also showed the operating areas for 3rd ID units deployed to Afghanistan with a mission to “advise and assist.”
Gregory called the new mission “leadership heavy,” which allows more soldiers to stay behind during the nine-month deployment. He noted that the 2nd ABCT’s 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry recently returned, and the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor will begin returning next week.
“They’ve really been in a tough fight,” he said, noting that several of that unit’s soldiers were now amputees. “When (the Desert Rogues) come back, the garrison has been asked to really focus on their re-integration.”
He said the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will be deploying in the spring of 2013, and companies with the 385th Military Police Battalion will continue to rotate in support of the mission,
Gregory spent the remainder of his discussion talking about expected budget cuts and efforts to avoid further downsizing of the civilian workforce and contractors. He said he could say nothing new about effects of sequestration because no decision has been made by Congress about whether it will happen. He did say, however, the possible 10-13 percent cut in Stewart-Hunter’s budget would be a “significant hit.”
Prior to Gregory’s speech, Rotary member Brigitte Cabeza-Shanken introduced this month’s soldier of the month, Spc. John Womer, 82d Civil Affairs Battalion. Womer thanked the Rotarians for the honor and for their support for Fort Stewart soldiers and their families. Womer, an information technology specialist who’s been in the Army four years, said he came to his new assignment straight from Afghanistan. The 82d Civil Affairs Battalion was activated at Fort Stewart in September.