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Sequestration deadline raises fears of Fort Gordon cuts

Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012 4:18 PM
Last updated 8:51 PM
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As politicians scurry to resolve the congressional cliffhanger known as sequestration, communities such as Augusta are bracing for a storm of uncertain proportions.

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Soldiers stand in formation outside of a dining facility at Fort Gordon. Cuts to the nation's defense program could go into effect Jan. 2 if Congress does not agree on a budget.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Soldiers stand in formation outside of a dining facility at Fort Gordon. Cuts to the nation's defense program could go into effect Jan. 2 if Congress does not agree on a budget.

“The cuts to the military alone would be tremendously damaging to the local economy,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. “It would be the perfect storm of bad economic news.”

The massive, across-the-board spending cuts would be triggered automatically on Jan. 2 – unless Congress can agree on a budget.

Although the federal cuts would affect every city, military communities such as Augusta could face more severe impacts because of Fort Gordon’s status as the area’s dominant employer.

“Fort Gordon employs 24,000 to 25,000 people,” said Thom Tuckey, the executive director of the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon. “About 16,000 are military and the rest are civilians and contractors.”

Defense cuts, he said, are not the sort of thing that should be made arbitrarily – and without advance notice to the forces affected.

Fort Gordon houses critical national defense programs, such as the National Security Agency’s top-secret surveillance facility that employs about 4,000 workers who collect and distribute intelligence data.

The post also houses major communications and computer schools and the largest Microsoft certified training center in the world, he said, noting that arbitrary cuts could compromise their effectiveness.

“Fort Gordon is the Army’s school for cyber warfare,” Tuckey said. “And right now the world of cyber warfare is the world of the future: The winner will be whoever can get into the other’s data the deepest.”

Those important programs would be difficult to cut, he said, but if the budget ax falls, the most likely victims could include civilian workers, contractors and infrastructure projects.

“I don’t have the crystal ball to say how this will shake out,” he said. “But if they have to cut that fast, and that soon, those are the areas that would most likely be affected.”

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said his offices are fielding questions daily about the looming sequestration deadline, but there is still uncertainty as to what will happen.

Rather than across-the-board sequestration that is particularly punitive to the military, a better solution is to collaborate on appropriately prepared cuts to reduce spending, he said.

“It’s impossible to assign cuts in an arbitrary, across-the-board fashion,” Isakson said. “If a program is valuable, you don’t cut it out, you go to programs that are not as valuable and find your cuts.”

Much of the public’s concern involves the effect of those potential cuts throughout military communities.

“Lots of business people in Augusta and Columbia County are concerned about the prospect of cutting back on outside contracting,” he said. “There is a tremendous amount of economic activity that breeds off the base.”

Examples could include everything from maintenance workers and material suppliers to landscapers, he said.

Commanders of military installations have also shared their frustrations with Isakson and other lawmakers.

“They have been told by the Pentagon to prepare for cuts if sequestration takes place, but they haven’t been told what will be cut,” Isakson said. “So for now, there is a great fear of the unknown.”

In addition to a major military base, Augusta also has Veterans Administration medical facilities that would also be at risk if sequestration slashes budgets.

“The last thing we want to do is cut veterans benefits when we have these thousands of people coming home from serving their country,” Isakson said.

The automatic cuts, mandated through the federal Budg­et Control Act passed as a compromise, calls for cutting $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, of which $492 billion will come from the Pentagon – starting in 2013 with a $56.7 billion cut to the Department of Defense budget.

As far as what will happen after Jan. 2, no one can say for sure.

“If you listen to the politicians and the president, they say we are going to sort it out before the first if the year, but no one has a plan acceptable to everyone,” Tuckey said. “But I do know there are lots of behind the scenes discussions under way.”

THE SEQUESTRATION SITUATION

In August 2011, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate voted for the threat of sequestration as a mechanism to force Congress to act on further deficit reduction. The specter of harmful across-the-board cuts to defense and other programs was intended to drive both sides to compromise. Now, unless Congress can avoid it by passing a balanced deficit reduction package, the indiscriminate cuts could have lingering effects everywhere, including Augusta.

Source: White House Office of Management & Budget

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TrulyWorried
15536
Points
TrulyWorried 11/24/12 - 05:28 pm
11
2
Defense cuts

Cuts should start in Washington DC where all these politicians are getting paid huge sums of money while they are not even on the job half of the time. THEN let them SEE where cuts are and are not needed and Ft. Gordon is one of the most important facilities to survive in the type of cyberwars that are being fought now. Veterans - they need to be at the top of the list of being protected - they have done their job protecting their country, now their country needs to protect them!!Keep the money in this country and help US, not every foreign country that hates us anyhow!!!

allhans
24148
Points
allhans 11/24/12 - 08:17 pm
8
3
Obama should spend a little

Obama should spend a little time in his office and fix this mess. It (the sequestration) was his idea, he appointed a committee to set up s workable plan and then ignored their findings, once again passing it on, refusing to deal with it. Since he started it, he should now finish it.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/24/12 - 06:06 pm
8
1
I don't not buy into it

Ft. Gordon is the #1 CONUS Military hospital.
Ft. Gordon is a Medical. MP, and Signal School training point.

Ft. Gordon has some of the best (there are some better) Information and Cyber and Counter Cyber Warriors in the world.

The NSA, ____, _____ and the DOD are working a recently expanded mission objective, inside a newly built massive Communications hub on the back side of post.

Given the $Billion$ in new technology invested in Ft. Gordon in the last 10 years, I don't buy into the sudden politically generated and created panic.

What I am wondering is why now did they pick this particular point in time to >>>>>>>>>Wag the Dog<<<<<< and what is to be gained and for who by doing it?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/24/12 - 06:13 pm
7
1
DOD cuts

Less I remember EVERYONE.

We are drawing down from 2 wars.

Defense Cuts logically happen as we move to a PEACE TIME, but ready footing.

The wars, at one point, were costing Taxpayers and the Printing presses
$10++ Billion a week.

It will be 10 to 12 years before they figure out our next war or police engagement if we hold to the recent USA war cycle.

I remember reading somewhere something about ".... no large standing army...."

I wonder where I read that?

leebraxjr
272
Points
leebraxjr 11/24/12 - 07:58 pm
6
1
Regular end of year proposals

Every year the Military looks into base closing and where to cut its spending. This is nothing new, Fort Gordon has been on the chopping block many of times and the Military restructures itself. Will there be cuts in the Military? yes, mostly consolidations for units that are not favoralbe for the future. Contractors will be ending their terms and what this means is where the contracts will be renewed.
Unfortuantly someone will loss their jobs. What should be looked at is what the private sector can do to help those who lose their jobs, that is where the impact will be.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/24/12 - 08:32 pm
5
1
May be one Wag The Dog Answer

Are my former, no New Taxes, no longer fiscal conservatives Republicans ... setting the stage to justify a tax deal, while appearing to be doing the right thing in trying to save a few military bases?

The Dog must haves vertigo problems after being wagged so much.

freeradical
1102
Points
freeradical 11/24/12 - 09:18 pm
4
3
When you have allowed

When you have allowed yourself to get 16 trillion in debt any

solution sucks for somebody .

The answer may be in making the solution suck for everbody .

But that is way to uncomplicated for the self conscious cretins in

charge.

Is there any doubt this land is condemned ?

Little Lamb
47284
Points
Little Lamb 11/24/12 - 10:18 pm
6
0
Winding Down

As Open Curtain pointed out above, we are winding down the monetary bleeding in Afghanistan and Iraq, so it is an appropriate time to cut the military budget. But we must not stop there. There are hundreds of government agencies, thousands of government bureaus, and millions of government employees that need to be cut.

Our society will survive a smaller government. Actually, we will begin to thrive again.

allhans
24148
Points
allhans 11/24/12 - 10:49 pm
6
1
It is no longer our daddy's

It is no longer our daddy's military. The training programs are nothing like years past. Disaster training, posting at "hot spots" in the world, all sorts of things along with the daily regulation routines.

rebellious
21389
Points
rebellious 11/24/12 - 11:45 pm
11
6
I hate to say it

but Augusta voted overwhelmingly for Obama. Augustans voted overwhelmingly for John Barrow. They also almost voted out one of the best District Attorneys we have ever had. They voted for a Sheriff with less than stellar performance in past assignments.

That being said, and I wish no one hard times or job loss, but guess what.....By God, you reap what you sow.

So let the games begin, let the cries of "we didn't know" start, let the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth commence.

Hey RA, is the sky still up there?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/25/12 - 08:52 am
2
2
Augusta Voted for Mr. Obama

But, I live in the South Side. Over here we still vote for the persons skills and management sense, not face tone.

Independent
509
Points
Independent 11/25/12 - 09:18 am
5
1
Facts

Firstable, it is not a cut to the military budget but a stop to its automatic yearly increase; the military will receive the same funds as last year as a minimum. Second, this measure was recommended by the highest echelon in the military. Third, Augusta Mayor needs to read more and terrorize less.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 11/25/12 - 11:16 am
0
0
Having used Ft G for the last
Unpublished

Having used Ft G for the last year, I can see where a tremendous amount of savings are possible. First, stop the construction of the bogus "traffic circle". There was never a safety problem with that area that would justify millions of dollars spent. Second, remove the recently installed and not used gate barriers. Apparently Ft g thinks we are all stupid enough to think the barriers will increase waiting times and security at the gates. Third, quit buting the ridiculous 25 MPH signs and hanging them everywgere. There is no better frrling than to drive down the totally empty four lane avenue by sig twrs and be restricted to 25 MPH. In fact I believe that all posts are required to follow state guidelines for speed limits and 25 is reserved for school areas during school time. Bottom line I believe is we can stand a lot of cutting across the board at Ft G. P.S. why do we need $38K pickup truck and SUV radar units or why do we need literally dozens of radar units ot use some of those dedicated radar units?

nanowerx
1334
Points
nanowerx 11/25/12 - 11:31 am
2
2
Sorry we are in debt

The country is $16 trillion in debt, we cannot afford military adventurism anymore. Unfortunately Fort Gordon will have to take a hit, but we can't keep spending taxpayer money for no reason. If Ft Gordon doesn't find it's place then it will be chopped and with good reason.

People saying stuff like "the politicians needs pay cuts" and the sort are showing that they have no idea how government works. The little bit saved by a few pay slashes wouldn't even dent the budget....we need to slash our military and spending. Our military spends 8X more than China (with the 2nd biggest military), I think that is simply too much for a country drowning in debt.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 11/25/12 - 12:14 pm
4
0
I know what to do....

....lets' say what the left says with any troublesome problem they haven't been able to solve.......

..."It's all Bush's fault"...

There... problem solved.

soapy_725
43817
Points
soapy_725 11/25/12 - 02:03 pm
0
0
CC home developers and concrete salesman say
Unpublished

"don't worry, be happy". They know and the folks at the CC courthouse know the fate of Fort Gordon. This is just another dog and pony show to divert attention from the truth about Augusta. Watch and wait. And hold on t o your wallets. You will be asked to save Fort Gordon, again. Not that your tax dollars are not already saving Fort Gordon.

DanK
784
Points
DanK 11/25/12 - 03:34 pm
2
0
Same ol' song

It's the same litany we hear repeatedly. Cut, cut, cut -- just don't cut anything that I want funded.

lesreed
4
Points
lesreed 11/25/12 - 05:36 pm
2
0
Not that big a cut

The 2012 Military Budget is 711 Billion Dollars. Sequestration would cut less than eight percent of this budget. The war in Iraq is mostly over as is the war in Afghanistan. Everyone is acting like there will be no money for the military. This is not the case.
The best answer is for Congress to do nothing. Which they are very good at. The Congressional Budget office prediction is two quarters of recession and a one percent increase in unemployment. Not a very high price to pay to put the US back on a firm financial footing.

allhans
24148
Points
allhans 11/25/12 - 06:10 pm
2
0
What is planned for the

What is planned for the thousands of troops that are being discharged? Obama says they will get priority with any new job openings, I say: huh?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/26/12 - 11:04 am
2
0
I can live with less Government

But can the Government live with less taxpayers?

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