HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - Funding, construction projects and garrison accomplishments were the major topics during Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Jose Aguilar's final State of the Garrison to Civilians and Soldiers at Hunter's Main Post Chapel, May 5.

The commander, who will depart from Hunter with a change of command, June 23, briefed the audience on the goings-on at Hunter and Fort Stewart, including unit missions and deployments.

And, of course, a large portion of the briefing focused on budget. The commander told the audience that the Army as a whole will receive more than $23 billion less in fiscal year 2012 than it did for fiscal year 2011, and that cuts will be felt around the Army - including Hunter.

According to Lt. Col. Aguilar, Fort Stewart-Hunter are funded in 2012 for 1,383 employees. But he urged the audience not to stress - many of those numbers will leave in retirement, change of station or other natural progressions. But an IMCOM-wide hiring freeze effects the installation, including - for the most part - not hiring for positions that people vacate.

"When we have a real important position, we're going to do what we have to to get it filled, but the bottom line is right now we're on a hiring freeze," he said. "There have been a lot of people talking to me, especially those out there looking for jobs and I have to tell them the brutal reality is: We're not hiring right now."

But he made sure to ensure workers that their jobs are not in jeopardy.

"Let management worry about these things - if you are in an authorized job and you're performing, we need you," he said. "There is not a reduction in force; we're using all of the other tools out there."

On a more positive note, the commander talked about the things the Hunter garrison community should be proud of in the past year, including awards, directorate changes and new facilities.

Stewart-Hunter as an installation was awarded at the IMCOM conference, the "Sustained Excellence Award." Lieutenant Colonel Aguilar explained that, due to past repeat wins, the installation was not eligible to compete for the Army Community of Excellence Award, but the IMCOM community wanted to award the installation for continued success, and developed this new award in order to do so.

Going with the theme of awards, the Garrison RMO Budget Office was notified, April 27, that it won the 2010 Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) Team award for Improvements to Budget Execution. The office was among 100 applicants who competed for the award from across the Department of Defense.

In a major transformation to the installation's pyramid, Stewart-Hunter was selected as a pilot site for Army Community Service to become a separate directorate, effective March 14. A study conducted by the Chief of Staff of the Army decided that ACS was a central intake for services, which prompted the conversion.

In trying to meet the needs of Hunter Families, two Child Development Centers were completed at Hunter this year - the one on Perimeter Road opened in March, and the one on Haley Avenue is scheduled to open next month.

Lieutenant Colonel Aguilar made a point to stress the importance of the Army Civilian Education System. It was brought up that many feel that the classes are not of value to them because of the leadership courses taken during time served in the military and because the ACES classes are job-specific. But the garrison commander made his opinion clear - you should take every opportunity to learn.

"If you're training for the job you're in now, you're behind the power curve," he said. "Until the day you take your last breath, you should constantly be educating yourself."
Lieutenant Colonel Aguilar talked about the projects that are currently funded, those that are set to be funded in the future, and those that are up in the air.

The Combat Aviation Brigade, specifically, will be seeing many changes to their facilities in the coming years; the CAB Complex Phase I and Phase II is projected to be funded in 2013 and 2014, and a new Aviation Maintenance Hangar is projected to be funded in 2016, while Hunter's Army Continuing Education Facility and Fire Station are, at this time, deemed "long term projects" beyond the 2016 fiscal year.

In closing, Lt. Col. Aguilar reminded all employees to live by the Army Values each and every day.

"We have got some great people who are doing some outstanding things and are abiding by [the Army Values]," he said. "And there are a lot of you who not only abide by these, but you get out there and every single day you're working with your teammates and you're going above and beyond your call of duty to serve our customers. I just want to tell you: 'Thank you.'"