The military in the Midlands would get a boost from President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, with more than $107 million allocated for construction projects.
But the proposal also calls for a new round of base closures — formally called Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC — which is a huge unknown for the military across the nation.
The president’s military construction budget, released Tuesday, contains $107.9 million for Fort Jackson in Columbia and Shaw Air Force Base. The budget was prepared by the Office of Management and Budget, headed by former S.C. congressman Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land, Trump’s budget director.
The one-time construction money includes:
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▪ $60 million for a new reception area for Fort Jackson. The reception complex is where new recruits are inducted into the Army before joining their basic training battalions.
▪ $25 million for a “mission training center,” for U.S. Army Central, located at Shaw.
▪ $22.9 million to consolidate fueling facilities at Shaw.
“It’s good news,” Carl Blackstone, president and chief executive of the Columbia Chamber, said of the construction money. Blackstone added the community “needs to be vigilant” about possibly losing missions through BRAC. “We’ve got room to grow (at Fort Jackson). We just have to continue to tell our story.”
Stephen Creech, a former Sumter mayor who represents the Gamecock City on the state’s Military Base Task Force, said the money is welcome at Shaw. “It’s about time,” he said. “I’m shocked that (the funds) are in the budget, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay there.”
The new reception center has long been a priority at Fort Jackson, the nation’s largest basic training facility. The base turns out about 50,000 new soldiers each year, and all of them move through the reception center to be sworn in, given shots, issued uniforms and learn rudimentary Army rules.
In October, Fort Jackson will stand up its 11th training battalion but still has room to expand, Blackstone said, perhaps absorbing much smaller basic training missions at Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., or Fort Sill, Okla.