Fort Belvoir's garrison staff, partner organizations and local officials took part in a listening session on the Army's force reduction plans, April 24 at Thurman Hall.
Representatives from the Army G-3's office presented a briefing on the plan to reduce the force structure at the end of Fiscal Year 2017 by 80,000 Soldiers.
Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, commanding general, opened the meeting. He emphasized that community leaders will have a say in the reduction process before any changes are made.
Linnington added there are no bad or off-limit questions.
"Throughout history, we have gone through a boom-to-bust cycle, and we are finally trying to get ahead of this so that everyone understands the difficult decisions that have to be made and the impact on individuals, teams, installations and the communities," said Linnington.
Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander, Col. Gregory D. Gadson said the meeting will answer some questions that people might have regarding the reduction. Although the reduction is specific to Brigade Combat Teams, Fort Belvoir needs to be aware of the reduction process.
"It is in all our interests to educate ourselves on actions like this force reduction," said Gadson.
The Army executed a Programmatic Environmental Assessment to evaluate the environmental and socioeconomic impact of the reduction. It was decided that a minimum of eight Brigade Combat Teams should be eliminated and to restructure the remaining BCTs to have three maneuver battalions.
"There are 45 BCTs in the Army, and we've announced we are taking down a minimum of eight," said session briefer Col. Tom O'Donoghue, Headquarters Department of the Army, G3/5/7. "The first two are coming out of Europe, so there is a minimum of six more being removed across the 15 installations with BCTs in the U.S."
BCTs at installations with a large force structure will be targeted for the reduction. Based on the size of Belvoir's operating force, O'Donoghue said a reduction in personnel on post is unlikely.
"Belvoir doesn't have that kind of force structure," said O'Donoghue. "So, it likely won't have much of a change from this."
Representatives from the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Prince William County Board of Supervisors, and Virginia Department of Transportation came to the meeting to find out how the reduction is going to impact their relationships, not only with Fort Belvoir, but the entire National Capital Region.
Although Prince William County does not share the same county (Fairfax) as Fort Belvoir, our community has a large impact with those who work and live on Fort Belvoir, according to Patrick Durany, Senior Aide to Supervisor John D. Jenkins, Neabsco District Supervisor.
"We enjoy this relationship and want to increase that by building strong relations," said Durany.
Several of these organizations have focused a significant amount of funds into installations in the NCR and wanted to make sure they are going to get something from their investments.
"We've spent hundreds of millions of dollars in road improvements for the Fairfax County Parkway, I-95, Rolling Road (and) Fort Eustis to widen the main road into that installation, and roads in and around Fort Lee," said Tom Fahrney, Virginia Department of Transportation, BRAC Coordinator. "I wanted to make sure those investments are recognized by the group that is doing the evaluation."
The Base Realignment and Closure Act - 2005 forced the state of Virginia to realize they need to spend money to upgrade the road networks around local installations to make sure employees have an easy trip to their place of employment, according to Farney. So, making sure these investments are of some value is important.
"We realize there's going to be a round of BRAC at some point," said Farney. "So, we want to make sure the road networks serving the installations are prepared in case more employees are moved to those installations."
O'Donoghue informed Farney that the Army's G-3 office is keeping every community representative's concerns in mind.
"We take everything in consideration when we are making these tough decisions, such as environmental data, infrastructure, water, and schools," said O'Donoghue. "We gather all of the facts and we do factor in the local community."
O'Donoghue concluded saying, now that the drawdown has begun overseas, the Army does not need to have as big a force structure as it has had for the last decade.
"The Army had to grow because it had to sustain stability overseas and have forces it could rotate," said O'Donoghue. "Now the war is over, so the strategy says (the Army) is not going to need to be sized for a long-term stability operation."