“After 10 years of war, our nation is facing new challenges and opportunities that call for reshaping our defense priorities,” the Army said in an environmental assessment that explores the need to reduce the active-duty strength from 562,000 at the end of fiscal year 2012 to 490,000 by fiscal 2020.
The draft assessment identifies two other Georgia bases – Fort Benning and Fort Stewart – in the list of sites that could lose at least 1,000 people during the seven-year realignment.
Fort Gordon’s public affairs officer, J.C. Mathews, said the assessment’s purpose is to evaluate environmental impacts “in the event of significant reductions in force structure at Fort Gordon” and do not represent any final decisions.
“It’s important to note that these force structure and stationing decisions assessed in the Programmatic Environmental Assessment have not yet been made, and those eventual decisions could include all, some or none of the reductions evaluated,” he said in a statement e-mailed to The Augusta Chronicle. “As such, we are unable to speculate about likely local impacts.”
Although most of the bases evaluated for force reductions are linked to combat teams, Fort Gordon houses critical national defense programs, such as the National Security Agency’s top-secret surveillance facility, which employs about 4,000 workers who collect and distribute intelligence data.
The post also houses major communications and computer schools, the Army’s school for cyber warfare and the largest Microsoft-certified training center in the world.
Fort Gordon’s military population, excluding reserves, is 13,729, Mathews said. Including civilian employees, the population is 22,801. Those figures include National Security Agency personnel.
Army officials said the assessment is designed to inform decision-makers of potential socioeconomic and environmental impacts associated with proposed force reduction actions that will be made gradually in the coming years.
“The specific locations where changes will occur have not been decided,” the announcement said.
The assessment, which proposes a “finding of no significant impact,” is out for public review and comment through Feb. 17.
“The Army values the public’s input, and this public comment period is intended to allow the public to weigh in on these important initiatives prior to a decision,” Mathews said.