HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - Leaders from Savannah and outlying communities took time from their busy schedules for lunch at the Hunter Club with Brig. Gen. Jeffery Phillips, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear, to learn about budget cuts at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield and their operational status, Jan. 27.

Brigadier General Phillips explained that the community outside the Hunter gates may see the effects of those cuts by waiting longer in line to get through the installation gates. Brigadier General Phillips also said that some gates could close. Other practices resulting from the cuts will include more selective hiring practices and curtailed grounds and custodial services.

"When members of the community visit and see that our grass is a little high, we want them to understand what our situation is," said Brig. Gen. Phillips, referring to the 50-percent non-essential cuts in the operational budget in 2010. "Just like Americans, we've identified areas where we can tighten our belts."

The senior commander explained that essential areas will not be cut.

"Troops will get the same training, care for Families will continue and security at our installations will remain intact," he said.

Approximately 20 community leaders attended the luncheon and many said they appreciated the update.

"The information was beneficial in keeping the lines of communication open between our agencies," said Jim Hansen, the Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission's director of developmental services. "It was also good to meet Brigadier General Phillips and to visit the installation and look around."

"We thanked our community leaders for attending and for their support," said Lt. Col. Jose Aguilar, Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander. "We appreciated their commitment and pledge that their support will continue."

About 20 community leaders from the Savannah area attended the luncheon at the Hunter Club. Among them were Dr. Thomas Lockamy, Savannah-Chatham County school superintendent, and Chairman Pete Liakakis, Chatham Co. Commission chairman.