The House Armed Services Committee today held a hearing on the impact of the sequester on the Department of Defense (DOD). Holding an article from the El Paso Times, Congressman Pete Gallego (TX-23) inquired of General Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff for the US Army, about the impact of the potential 30% cuts to Fort Bliss. He also asked the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Mark A. Welsh, about the economic impact of the sequester on Laughlin Air Force base and the surrounding area. You can watch the video here.
Fort Bliss had a projected 300% population increase last year due to re-stationing one generation of several brigade combat teams. The economic impact of the Fort's expansion total $3.9 billion per year. Through several army initiatives, more than 24,000 troops and 3,000 federal civilians are at Fort Bliss.
Texas has 131,548 active duty military personnel, the largest number of any state.
"This hearing is important for not only our national defense, but our military men, women and families," said Congressman Pete Gallego. "We all lose if the sequester goes into effect, and the sequester is just days away. Congress shouldn't recess- we must work around the clock to stop the disastrous mess created by the previous Congress. To make matters worse, our military doesn't even have the authority to decide where to cut. The people of the 23rd district elected me to try and work with others towards reasonable solutions."
The furloughs and hiring freeze in the sequester will impact veterans most heavily because veterans make up 44 percent of the DOD civilian workforce.
According to the House Appropriations Committee 16,351 civilian personnel associated with the Air Force would be impacted- and more than $127 million in wages associated with the Air Force would be lost. These figures are for the state of Texas alone.
The total direct employment at Laughlin Air Force Base stood at 3,216 active duty military, civilian and contract personnel in FY 2011, with an additional 980 family members. An additional 6,868 jobs in Texas are indirectly impacted by Laughlin AFB's operations, for a total statewide impact of 10,078. $916 million worth of economic activity can be attributed to the Laughlin AFB's operations.