As lawmakers continue to figure out our country’s financial state, the military community is still waiting to see how the budget cuts will affect the Wiregrass.
The bottom line is, it is still unclear how what happens in Washington D.C. will trickle down to Fort Rucker.
But top military leaders are trying to see for themselves, by touring facilities, hearing from leaders and speaking with the community, about what budget cuts could cost Fort Rucker.
Fort Rucker hasn’t been forgotten since forced budget cuts happened exactly a month ago. First the Secretary of the Army stopped at the post last month. On Monday, the Army’s Chief of Staff came to town to acknowledge Ft. Rucker’s purpose.
“Fort Rucker gives us some things that we just can’t replicate any other places…I think it’s the busiest day to day number of flights taken from this area. And that’s not easy to replicate anywhere else,” said Army Chief of Staff General Odierno.
General Odierno understands balancing a national budget is no small task. But he made his opinion clear. “The bottom line is one of the real threats to our national security is our ability to balance our budget and make sure that we are in strong fiscal health…And so we have to make sure that as we go through here we do this the right way.”
General Odierno believes ensuring our military is ready at any moment is the only right way. “Make sure they understand how important it is that we have the dollars to ensure that we are ready when we are asked to do whatever mission we are given…And here at Fort Rucker. It’s a key piece for the army.”
When the Secretary of Army visited, he expressed the importance of Congress granting the military flexibility to move around money in the defense department’s budget. To make sure funds were going where they were absolute necessary.
Monday, General Odierno said they are closer to getting that request. “It gave us some additional flexibility. It was able to help us with about half of the deficit we had. But we still have some deficit that will have to work through for the rest of the year.”
A small silver lining for now, but General Odierno says we must continue to look ahead.
“If we have to reduce it a little bit this year we will do that. We will try to mitigate that as much as we can. But we have to be careful because what we mitigate this year will cost us in readiness next year and it is important for us to recognize that.”
Once a budget is submitted April 10th on Capitol Hill…it may be clearer what exactly will be cut here at Fort Rucker. Some of the cuts Fort Rucker may experience are a cut of at least 500 student pilots and more than 3,700 hours of aviation training.