A good week for Georgia’s military facilities

There was good news for the Hinesville-Savannah region of the state last week as the Pentagon announced the Army’s decision to create a new Armor Brigade Combat Team at Fort Stewart, a conversion of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. This will be Fort Stewart’s second Armor Brigade Combat team.

While this conversion won’t increase the 4,200 soldier force, in fact, according to military.com, it will mean a slight reduction in force, but that force will be infinitely more powerful with the addition of 87 M1A1 Abrams tanks, 138 Bradley fighting vehicles and 18 M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzers.

When the conversion is complete (it begins next summer) there will be 15 Armor Brigade Combat teams across the country. There is no better place than Fort Stewart, in our opinion, for armor training where the 139,000 pound Abrams tanks can roam through parts of five counties on the largest Army base east of the Mississippi, encompassing 280,000 acres.

Strengthening the Army with the Armor Brigade Combat Teams is to address, according to Col. Brian Ellis, force management division chief with the Army’s G-3/5/7, “several security challenges that have been identified by the secretary of defense. Those challenges are Russian, China, North Korea and Iran. The Army’s armored brigades will be on continuous European rotation. The other ABCT at Fort Stewart, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, just returned from deployment in Eastern Europe and another ABCT, based at Fort Carson in Colorado, will deploy to Europe next month.

This is obviously costing the Pentagon a lot of money. Until last week, this was a problem. The White House had requested in the 2017 defense budget $3.4 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative, but it stalled in Congress in September and instead it passed a Continuing Resolution. However, Congress finally acted on Friday, changed the name to the European Deterrence Initiative and funded it at $3.42 billion.

When the formation of the new ABCT was announced, Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue applauded the move along with Rep. Buddy Carter in a joint media release. We’re sure the rest of the state’s elected leadership support the move as well and now with the funding secured, if the president signs the bill, these Armor Brigade Combat Teams can continue their European rotations without impacting other military initiatives.

Closer to home there are other military matters that should demand our attention. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., is rightfully crowing about his role in S. 2943, the Conference Report to accompany the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 375 to 34, according to a release from his office and now heads to President Obama’s desk. Scott is the only Republican member from Georgia on the House Armed Services Committee.

An amendment he sponsored delays “the retirement of Robins Air Force Base’s JSTARS” and keeps the “invaluable A-10C Warthog, flown out of Moody Air Force Base, in action.” Moody will also get a $30 million aircraft hanger. The legislation also provides the largest pay raise for military personnel, 2.1 percent, in six years.

According to the release, Scott offered an amendment that removed proposed language that had the potential to shift work from Air Force depots, including Robins Air Force Base, that would have had a “detrimental effect on the Air Force depot community’s C-130 maintenance and modernization work load. Another amendment proposed by Scott prevented a change in the current definition of a “Commercial Item.” The change, if it had slipped by, would have harmed the workforce at Air Force depots.

All and all, not a bad week for the state’s military installations and that means a good week for Georgia.