Community leaders urge CSRA to attend Fort Gordon meeting to save soldiers

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fort Gordon's main gate.
Fort Gordon's main gate. (May 2, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The Army is planning to reduce its size by 80,000 soldiers between now and 2017, and how these cuts affect Fort Gordon could be determined by who shows up to tomorrow's meeting.

"It's critical that we communicate that the community supports this, so don't sit at home," urged David Steele, regional VP of the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes.

It's a plea from a veteran himself to the whole CSRA.

"Many people take for granted that the fort will always be here, but we've got to fight for it," he said.

At a community-wide meeting at the Fort Gordon Dinner Theater on Thursday, this is what the community will be fighting against.

"The Army's planning reductions in the size of the active duty Army by the size of about 80,000 soldiers between now and 2017," explained Fort Gordon Public Affairs Officer J.C. Matthews.

That could mean a cut of up to 4,300 service members at Fort Gordon, and CSRA Alliance Executive Director Thom Tuckey says the pain of that will ripple off post and into the community.

"From an economic standpoint, every job on Fort Gordon creates two jobs in the community, so if we were to cut all 4,300 spaces, although unlikely but worst case, that's 8,600 jobs in the community that would go away," he said.

The meeting on Thursday at noon is a chance for you to speak out.

Steele plans to be there.

"Not only do we not want Fort Gordon to be reduced, but we're willing and able to take on more missions," Steele said.

He says this reminds him of battling BRAC in 2005 when Fort Gordon was in danger of a base closure. He hopes this fight will have a similar happy ending, but he says it all starts with a show of support.

"This population area really stepped up, and we've seen the benefit of that. We have to have a similar turnout now," Steele said.

"We want the community to show are in fact concerned about our installation, and we love our soldiers and families, and we want to see them stay here forever," Tuckey said.

These cuts are not part of sequestration. They were planned reductions from the Department of the Army that were announced about a year ago.

Business leaders from around the area are also scheduled to speak.

The meeting is from noon to 2 p.m. at the Fort Gordon Dinner Theater on post. You have to get gate clearance to get in, so plan to go a little early.

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