Today marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. Secretary of the Army John McHugh paid a special visit to Fort Rucker.
He said Fort Rucker is living up to its reputation. “It is earning its name as a Center for Excellence. Aviation is an absolute irreplaceable part of our army formations. That kind of mission has been irreplaceable in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Secretary McHugh.
But when forced budget cuts happened on March 1st, swiping almost 8 percent from the defense budget, questions surfaced on how that will impact the post.
And as Secretary McHugh says, there is no clear solution.
“This is an ever changing landscape. And part of the challenge that General Mangum has as well as the rest of army leadership is trying to plan for these developments without knowing fully what the developments will hold,” he said.
Whether 500 student pilots and 3,700 hours of aviation training will be lost is still up in the air.
Fort Rucker Commanding General Kevin Mangum said, “We are still working on those specific numbers based on dollars and time. So it’ll be no less than 500.”
And with cuts inevitable, Secretary McHugh says it isn’t all about the bottom line. “The problem is the money is misaligned in accounts that we don’t need the money for. And we are just precluded in the budget law from moving those funds from column A to column B for example.”
He hopes Congress grants them that desired flexibility. “To be able to move those moneys would alleviate some of those challenges we see. Whether it is training and flight hours or many of the other problems we are currently trying to work through”
So Fort Rucker can continue improving their positive reputation.
“Fort Rucker will be an important part of the United States Army from my perspective for quite some time to come.”
Secretary McHugh says no matter what decisions are made in the future, he is confident they will be able to fully resource those that are going into harms way.