Valdosta Daily Times

February 26, 2014

Military cut proposals require vigilance

The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel proposed shrinking the military Monday to create an Armed Forces for the future.

However, what this might mean for the future of bases throughout the United States, including Moody Air Force Base, remains unclear.

Hagel’s proposals include shrinking the military to its smallest size in 74 years. The proposed cuts would affect the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force as well as active-duty and retired military members.

These proposals include retiring the Air Force’s fleet of A-10 “Warthog” tank-killer planes for an estimated savings of $3.5 billion over five years, according to the Associated Press. The A-10 is a staple of Moody Air Force Base’s mission.

 Hagel called for the closings of domestic military bases in 2017. He also proposed “a variety of changes in military compensation, including smaller pay raises, a slowdown in the growth of tax-free housing allowances and a requirement that retirees and some families of active-duty service members pay a little more in health insurance deductibles and co-pays,” according to AP.

Such proposals should not surprise South Georgians. During recent interviews with The Valdosta Daily Times, congressmen Rep. Austin Scott and Rep. Jack Kingston each mentioned military proposals to retire the A-10, and President Barack Obama wanting additional base closures in the near future. Both congressmen vowed to keep Moody and the military strong.

There have also been recent reports that military benefits such as commissary allowances may be reduced for both active-duty and retired military personnel.

So, Hagel’s announcement Monday should not surprise anyone locally, nor should it inspire shocked panic. These various reductions and proposals have been regularly discussed for months, with no changes, yet.

However, it would be wise for the community to remain vigilant and be prepared to respond to more definitive proposals.

More than 20 years ago, Moody Air Force Base was on the chopping block. A well-prepared group of local, state and national leaders, retired military and concerned citizens saved Moody from being closed.

Neither surprise, panic nor desperation played a part in that successful effort to save Moody. Planning, preparation, perseverance and persistence saved the base.

In light of Hagel’s proposals, South Georgia should be vigilant and ready to support Moody Air Force Base and our active-duty and retired military neighbors. Preparation will be our best measure of defense.