A hearing which brought together the Army's top leadership and the Defense Appropriations Committee, which governs the Army's funding. Congressman Jack Kingston (R/GA-1) used this opportunity to continue his fight for Fort Stewart and the communities surrounding the post.
Congressman Kingston, who serves as a senior member of the committee, questioned Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey on the commitments made to Fort Stewart and possible assistance available after the Army reversed its long-standing decision to send an additional brigade to the post.
"The Department of Defense has already invested $500 million in this project, the School Board spent almost $400,000 and local infrastructure investments total $40 million," Congressman Kingston said. "Local businesses have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in providing housing with $73.9 million invested in housing that's ready and waiting. In 2008, there were 634 housing permits issued alone - that's remarkable for a year when our economy began slipping."
"These investments were driven by frequent announcements that were not made casually but by people in positions of authority. The Department of Defense's decision to reverse this decision represents a breach of trust with a community which has given its unfailing support. And what does this tell the next community or the next business owner that sees a real need for the troops? We've got to do something about this."
Congressman Kingston outlined the repeated commitments made by Army officials beginning with the Army's then-Vice Chief of Staff, General Dick Cody, on December 19, 2007 to April of this year - less than two weeks before the first indication that an additional brigade may not be on its way.
Congressman Kingston pressed Secretary Geren and General Casey on commitments to the community and the need for more certainty.
"Are these banks and developers hanging on a prayer or are they in free fall," Congressman Kingston questioned. "If they're in free fall, we need to tell them immediately so the hole isn't dug any deeper. If there's hope of the Pentagon bringing new missions, they need to know that and we all need to start working on it."
Secretary Geren agreed that the community "has gone out on a limb" at the behest of the Pentagon. He added, "we want to look at ways to mitigate the situation."