When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates released an outline of the Department's budget last week, he included a proposal to cap growth of the Army at 45 brigades, rather than the 48 previously planned. While noting the announcement is cause for concern, Congressman Jack Kingston (R/GA-1) pledged to work vigorously to make sure a brigade slated to come to Fort Stewart will make its way to the post.
"Whenever the Secretary of Defense announces reduced growth for the Army, it is cause for concern in our area," Congressman Kingston said. "I remain convinced, however, that as the Army works to meet the goals set forth in Secretary Gates' budget outline, Fort Stewart will remain an ideal location for continued growth. Between its own infrastructure and the overwhelming community support, the post is the perfect location to prepare our troops for whatever comes their way; be it traditional combat, hybrid warfare or transitioning back from service."
Congressman Kingston bases his view of Fort Stewart's future on several factors he believes will be key in meeting the goals set forth in Secretary Gates' budget outline. Besides having the room to grow, the ground work laid, and fervent community support, Congressman Kingston points to the post's training area which is the largest in the Army east of the Mississippi. In addition, the post's proximity to sea, air, and rail travel modes sets it apart from other major installations such as Fort Drum and Fort Bragg.
"When the decision was made to bring more troops to our area, it was the affirmation of what we already knew," Congressman Kingston said. "Fort Stewart is the perfect place for the military to grow in line with our national security interests. That fact hasn't changed and it's only become more apparent."
The call for three less brigades came in a budget outline released by Secretary Gates last week which contains very little information. More information and specific guidelines are expected to be released in the coming weeks, possibly as soon as the Administration releases its full budget proposal on May 4.
In the meantime Congressman Kingston, who has already discussed the issue with Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, plans to continue his work with Army leadership and community leaders to ensure plans for growth in Fort Stewart area are on track.