For over the past decade, the United States has been engaged in the Global War on Terror. This past December, President Obama ended our nation's combat mission in Iraq. Barely a month later, his Administration announced our combat role in Afghanistan could end as early as next year.
Regardless of one's opinion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we all stand proud of our brave men and women in uniform. They've served our nation with honor. We especially will remember and continue to hold in our hearts all that paid the ultimate sacrifice in these conflicts.
For the families of our brave men and women in uniform serving overseas, the end of our combat missions is welcome news. Many of our loved ones will be coming home to Alabama and across the United States.
For other families here in the Calhoun County region, and especially for the civilian workforce of the Anniston Army Depot and its local partner companies, the drawdown is bittersweet news.
When wars start, the Depot expands and has to hire more folks to keep up with the demand from our military. When wars draw down and our troops come home, the workload returns to its pre-war levels.
We are already seeing the effects of the troop drawdown at the Depot with the recent announcement that many temporary employees hired during war surge would lose their jobs over the next few months. Any loss of jobs and their impact on our local families hurts greatly. It is a very difficult time for these folks.
It's also a tough time for our community, which is why I wanted weigh in on some of the challenges ahead that we face.
Can any of these temporary jobs be saved or be made into permanent positions? I along with AFGE Local 1945, the Army and our state Senators, am working to find out. It is a very tough road given the troop drawdown and budgetary constraints. But at least we've got to try to see if the Army can work with us to develop or identify any immediate solutions for these temporary employees losing their jobs because of the troop drawdown.
Long term the Depot faces many strategic questions. For example, how does it adjust its workforce to meet the new military strategy? How does it find additional work across the military to protect our permanent employees , and how does it position itself for the long haul by maintaining at least its core and pre-war workload? Most of the answers to these questions will be impacted by decisions from the Army leadership and the Obama Administration.
What we must do as a community is to join together and fight for our Depot. That means all of us from the local Chamber of Commerce leaders, the leadership of AFGE Local 1945, our private sector partners, Governor Bentley, and all our elected officials from city hall, to Montgomery, to Washington, D.C. We must find opportunities for new work and press the Army to move that work to Anniston. Ensuring a steady stream of work into the facility, which helps protect ANAD's thousands of good paying permanent civilian jobs, should be our number one priority.
Anniston Army Depot has state-of-the-art facilities, a world class workforce, and the proven reputation of America's "can do" spirit. But we should face this period of transition with a sober eye and resolve of steel. We are all aware of the dire fiscal condition our nation faces. This coupled with the President's unwillingness to fully fund a national defense strategy I believe we need, and his request for a new round of BRAC, adds more uncertainty to the future.
I oppose a new round of BRAC, especially while the Army is determining its path forward through the troop drawdown. If a new round of BRAC is approved in coming years, since we've been down that road before, as a community I believe we're well positioned to fight for the Depot, with the Chamber having never stood-down their efforts since BRAC 2005, and ensure it remains the premier facility of its kind in America.
I know firsthand what the Anniston Army Depot means to our community. Growing up, my father worked there and it helped put food on our table. Protecting and fighting for our Depot and its workforce is in my blood, and I have every confidence we'll continue winning this fight. We all have a role to play, and I strongly encourage anyone who is ready to join this fight.