Fort Bragg's importance could spare it from deep defense cuts
Posted January 5, 2012
Fayetteville, N.C. — The Pentagon's plans to cut 8 percent from the U.S. defense budget will affect North Carolina, but officials said Thursday it's too early to determine the impact.
President Barack Obama said the overhaul to the U.S. military is designed to contend with hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts and refocus national security priorities after a decade dominated by the post.-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Troops from Fort Bragg, Marines from Camp Lejeune and airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base all played key roles in the two wars.
Fort Bragg officials declined to comment Thursday on Obama's announcement, but the head of a regional development group planning for the post's growth said he expects some good things from the move.
"In a lot of ways, it will be good for us here at Fort Bragg," said Greg Taylor, executive director of the Fort Bragg Regional Alliance.
Fort Bragg has been on a growth binge in recent years since the Base Closure and Realignment Commission decided in 2005 to move the headquarters of both the Army Forces Command and Army Reserve Command to the post.
Taylor notes that critical components of the Army, such as Special Operations and Special Forces, are based at Fort Bragg and will likely be unscathed by the cutbacks.
"The defense secretary has stated that there's going to be an increase in Special Operations and Special Forces," he said.
Also, the 82nd Airborne Division, based at the post, is trained to quickly respond to any crisis in the world, which he said makes it a key element in a leaner U.S. military.
"We've known for years that when the president dials 911, the phone rings at Fort Bragg, and with the location of the Special Forces and forces command, that's more true now than it's ever been," he said.
Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne agreed that the plans for a more flexible and responsive military fit with the structure of Fort Bragg.
"“The model (the president) is describing for our nation’s defense is exactly what goes on at Fort Bragg,” Chavonne said. "I think they (at Fort Bragg) do represent our nation’s defense and will continue to be the first ones called. So, I would imagine that they will have even have a more important role.”
While the cuts could result in a loss of some Army personnel in central North Carolina in the years to come, Taylor said he thinks the biggest impact could be felt among defense contractors.
"Defense cuts are going to affect us in some way, but we just have to wait to see what the details are," he said.