By Reginald Rogers ParaglideMarch 3, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan spent a great part of Friday visiting Fort Bragg facilities, video conferencing with XVIII Airborne Corps and Multinational Corps - Iraq Commander, Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, and viewing construction of the Army's new 288.5 million Forces Command headquarters. "I had an excellent opportunity to have a videoconference with General Lloyd Austin, who is commanding the ground forces in Iraq," she said. "We had a videoconference on base and I had not had the opportunity to meet with him. He is a very, very impressive individual and I just know that looking at what I've witnessed this morning, I just feel so comfortable about the troops that we have in Iraq and about the support system that they have." Hagan said she expects the government stimulus package to help the state's economy, including businesses here in the Fayetteville-Fort Bragg area. "North Carolina will receive approximately $6.1 billion from the stimulus package and I think it will help a long way in helping with the budget crunch that we are experiencing now in North Carolina," she explained. "Just yesterday, I attended a shovel-ready project that's ready to go up on Highway 52 on the border of Forsyth and Stokes Counties. It's a project that's been on the books since about 1995. It had funding then it was pulled back, now it will receive funding and it's a $21 million project." Hagan said she wanted to use her post in the Senate Arms Committee to ensure that North Carolina remains the most military friendly state in the nation. She added that the state, itself, must help as well. "I think we've got to realize that there are a lot of other states out there that also want that recognition," she pointed out. "I think the fact that North Carolina has become the recipient under the Base Realignment and Closure Committee's recommendations, we will be getting 10,000 more troops and with that is probably another 28,000 people. The economic impact of what's going on here at Fort Bragg, to Fayetteville and Cumberland County, is about $9 billion a year. "What I want to see too is what we can do to bring more defense contractors into North Carolina, to supplement what is going on on our military bases" Hagan said. "When you have the influx of people that will be coming into Fort Bragg, I'm hoping too that we can have the influx of businesses that will follow." Hagan was instrumental in campaigning with President Barack H. Obama, for troop withdrawals during the presidential race last fall. She said she had an opportunity to speak with Lt. Gen. Austin on that subject during the video teleconference. "I think we've go to listen to the generals," she said. "I was talking to the general this morning about that and he was saying that with what they're doing, a lot of the improvised explosive device attacks have dropped. They're training the police and the Iraqi Soldiers and I know that Afghanistan is another area that is looking at having more troops come in. But we've got to be sure that we do the job in Iraq that needs to be done now." She said she is proud of the work that our troops are doing in Iraq but declined to speak on withdrawal timetables. "I'm going to leave that to the generals in charge," she said. "But I think they are doing a very good job and it also depends on not only what we do, but on what the Iraqis do and their timetable and when they can actually feel comfortable."