FAYETTEVILLE – Fort Bragg will lose 842 active-duty service members based on the U.S. Army’s force reduction announcement released Thursday. The Army is cutting more than 40,000 soldiers across the service over the next two years to meet the required budget cuts, much of them from administrative and operational support roles. Bases have been bracing for the announcement since February, when U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Nagel recommended slicing military benefits and positions to save $7 billion in Defense’s bottom line. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) represents the Fayetteville area and blasted the plan, but said she is confident that Fort Bragg will remain mission-ready.
“Further cuts are not the answer, especially at Fort Bragg as it is home of America’s Contingency Corps and the U.S. Army’s most critical installation,” she said. “These cuts take us backwards—and at a time when there are mounting threats abroad, it is all the more imperative the U.S. maintains a robust military… I will continue working with military leaders to ensure our troops are fully equipped in order to defend our nation.”
Fort Bragg’s operational units are commonly called the Army’s “first responders,” home to the U.S. Special Operations forces, the 18th Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division.
“While it is disappointing to see cuts are being made, I am more convinced than ever that Fort Bragg’s importance as the tip of the spear of the U.S. military will continue to thrive,” said Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)
Bragg did have fewer cuts than some other bases, but locals say the loss of so many jobs is significant in every town that has a base. The hardest hit was Fort Hood in Texas, with a loss of over 3,300 troops.
“While the number is low compared to some of the other bases, that is still 842 families affected and that will impact local businesses and their livelihood,” said Blair Ellis, communications director for Ellmers.
The cuts announced Thursday take the Army from 490,000 to 450,000 members, the minimum that Pentagon officials say they need without “significant risk” to their ability to respond in crisis. The total is down from 570,000 soldiers in 2010. At this point there is not an estimate of the civilian job loss associated with the cuts.