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Huge crowd protests DoD cuts at Ft. Rucker, warns of ‘devastating economic tsunami’

An instructor approaches an Apache helicopter on Fort Rucker (Photo: Fort Rucker Flickr photostream)
An instructor approaches a Black Hawk helicopter on Fort Rucker (Photo: Fort Rucker Flickr photostream)

DALEVILLE, Ala. — Approximately 1,600 community members in the Wiregrass area of southeast Alabama attended a forum Monday night with Department of Defense representatives to voice their concerns over impending budget cuts that could effect nearby Fort Rucker.

The cuts, part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 also known as “Sequestration,” are scheduled to begin October 1st of this year, and could impact military installations across the country. Sequestration cuts equal amounts from defense and non-defense spending, but some programs like Medicaid and Social Security were exempt.

Sequestration could eliminate up to 2,500 military and civilian jobs at Fort Rucker and impact 15,000 more civilian jobs in the Wiregrass.

The area’s congressional representative, Martha Roby (R-AL2), has long expressed concerns that sequestration would disproportionately harm the military.

“Threatening military cuts as a mean to a budgetary end is just flat out wrong,” Rep. Martha Roby said. “My job is to get members of Congress to understand how horrible these cuts will be, how devastating these cuts will be to the United States military in order to ensure that the sequester doesn’t go into place.”

Fort Rucker is the Army’s primary aviation training base, equipping Army pilots who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in other conflicts.

Thousands of military men and women and their families reside on the base, and shrinking or shuttering Fort Rucker would undoubtedly have broad economic implications for the Wiregrass area as a whole.

“This sequestration will affect every aspect of my life so yes, it is personal for me and my family as well many of you here today,” one woman said at the forum.

“The impact of that would be swift, significant and devastating really, like an economic tsunami,” Daleville Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth said. “We are so proud of our small businesses in the City of Daleville and they would be impacted almost immediately as they are an time there is a shut down or a closure on Fort Rucker.”

DoD representatives are visiting 30 military bases and instillations across the country to gather feedback and compile a report to be presented officials who will decide which units will be cut. Those decisions are expected to be made in late spring or early summer, though Rep. Roby and others are hopeful that a new deal can be made eliminating the cuts to military spending.

Meanwhile, the DoD representatives will continue to gather the voices of the men and women whose livelihoods hang in the balance.

“The Chief of Staff of the Army and the Secretary of the Army both want to make sure that we get the public’s perspective, that we hear their voice and that we tell Fort Rucker’s story. The Pentagon is a long way from Fort Rucker,” said Brigadier General Roger Cloutier, Director of Force Management. “This will be a key component. The senior leaders want to know what the people think.”


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