The 180 jobs to be lost at Fort Jackson will not include any civilian workers, the post’s commander, Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier Jr., said Thursday.
Also, those job cuts don’t have to be made until 2017, the general said during an assessment of the fort and its missions. He took the reins of the nation’s largest training base May 29.
However, Cloutier, whose job prior to Fort Jackson was to study the size and makeup of the Army as the Pentagon’s director of force management, said more cuts are expected between 2017 and 2019. Those will likely include civilian workers, he said.
“There will be another round of reductions,” he said.
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Fort Jackson considered itself lucky to lose only 180 in the latest round of cuts. The number is far fewer than what post officials had anticipated as part of a drastic, 40,000-soldier drawdown by the Army following 14 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The nation’s largest service is expected to drop to 450,000 soldiers by the end of the 2017 budget year from a high of 570,000 during the peak of the fighting in 2008 and 2009. In addition to the drawdown cuts enacted by the Army, Congress may mandate deeper cuts to both the military and domestic spending Congress as a result of the 2011 debt ceiling fight, called “sequester.”
Job cut projections at Fort Jackson were as large as 3,100 in a worst-case scenario that post commanders planned for.
In notable other reductions, Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., will see a net loss of 3,400 soldiers and Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Ga., will lose 950 soldiers as part of the overall restructuring of the Army.
The cuts at Fort Benning could be good news for Fort Jackson because the Georgia post has a basic training contingent, albeit much smaller than Columbia’s post. Fort Jackson trains 54 percent of the Army’s soldiers — about 42,000 last year — more than the Army’s three other basic training bases at Benning, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and Fort Sill, Okla., combined.
Fort Jackson commanders and boosters have said the post has the capacity to absorb the basic training functions of each of the other three posts. Benning provides basic training for infantry; Sill for artillery; and Leonard Wood for military police.
Cloutier, who in his job as director of force management also studied force structure at those posts, would not comment much on whether a consolidation is possible. However, he did say that Fort Jackson has “excess capacity” for training soldiers, although he wouldn’t say what that capacity was.
“We’re trying to sort that out,” he said, adding, “you can’t replicate what we do here in any other place.”
MAJ. GEN. ROGER L. CLOUTIER JR.
Home state: Maine
Education: University of San Diego; Troy University
Family: Wife, Diane; three children
Enlisted: May 27, 1987, from ROTC
Deployments: Panama, Bosnia, Iraq (4)
Recent posts: Deputy commander 3rd Infantry Division (July 2011); executive officer supreme allied commander – Europe (June 2012), Army director of force management (August 2013)
Fort Jackson by the numbers
3,500: Military employees
3,500: Civilian employees
42,000: Soldiers who received basic training in 2014
26,000: Soldiers and sailors who received advanced training
$2 billion: Annual economic impact in the area
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