State News

Army holds 'listening session' about Bragg force reductions

Posted February 5, 2015 4:01 a.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2015 9:02 p.m. EST

— Fort Bragg leaders, residents and others packed into the Embassy Suites in Fayetteville on Thursday morning for a "listening session" to discuss how force reduction plans could affect the sprawling Army post that's home to the famed 82nd Airborne Division.

An Army report says Fort Bragg could lose as many as 16,000 soldiers and civilians over the next decade, and the region could lose more than 21,000 jobs.

Retired four-star Gen. Dan McNeill and current Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson know the importance of keeping the current troop strength at Fort Bragg.

"I think we had a great cross-section – education, health, business, Realtors – all good partners," Anderson said. "I think they got strong messages across about how much they feel about Fort Bragg."

Retired Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson received a round of applause when he said the strength of the soldier is the family, but the strength of the family is the community.

"And that is exactly what makes Fayetteville and Fort Bragg and ideal location for our forces to live, raise a family, and train and conduct their missions," he said.

During the session, leaders reviewed Fort Bragg's impact on the region and explained why the Army is reducing its size. Similar sessions have been held at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and other posts.

"It comes down to those intangible things," said Michael Lynch with the Fayetteville Regional Chamber of Commerce. "What about the quality of life? What about the commitment from the state and local governments to take care of soldiers, to improve the quality of life? All those things come into play when they make decisions like this."

Business leaders pointed out about $1 billion in defense contracts are executed in communities near Fort Bragg each year.

 "This execution of defense contracts allows Fort Bragg to accomplish its mission at the lowest possible price, getting the best services at the best prices to support our soldiers and their families," said Scott Dorney with the North Carolina Military Business Center.

Fort Bragg officials are encouraging people to tweet their questions because space at the Embassy Suites conference center is limited.

"I thought it went very well," said Brig. Gen. Roger Cloutier, a Pentagon representatives who attended the event. "We gained some valuable data, and we'll bring that back to the senior leadership of the Army."