Major general says Fort Bragg 'relevant' to military's future
The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.
Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt said Tuesday that despite an uncertain fiscal future, Fort Bragg remains "absolutely vibrant, ready and relevant" strategically in terms of national security.
Colt, the deputy commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps, spoke during the Fayetteville Regional Chamber's State of the Community luncheon at Embassy Suites.
An audience of about 320 also heard capsule reports on Fayetteville, Hope Mills and Cumberland County.
In his look at 2013, Colt said there has been "an amazing refocus, rejuvenation on global response force." As a result, he said the installation provides "three stakes in the significant relevance of national security."
Those, he said, are the 18th Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Forces.
"As we move forward, you can count on us remaining ready and strategically relevant for the distant future,'' Colt said. " ... We continue to lead in Operation Enduring Freedom."
What does sequestration mean to Fort Bragg in 2014?
Colt said he saw few unforeseeable changes in regards to loss of soldiers on post. "It's actually quite minimum," he said.
As other military communities begin drawing down, the post's global response mission should keep Fort Bragg resourced at appropriate levels, Colt said.
"If we are going to lose some of our civilian workforce," he said, "I think what has already been identified - we're looking at positions and not people. And I think those will be minimal."
Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne spoke of the positive changes in the local economy.
From 2007 to 2012, he said, personal income in the city has risen 25.6 percent - more than double the average of the state. Area Development magazine, which ranks economic and workforce indicators, rated Fayetteville 50th among the 365 U.S. metros. "Ahead of both Durham-Chapel Hill and Raleigh-Cary," Chavonne said.
Since 2009, the annual economic impact of Fort Bragg on the region, fueled by the BRAC changes, has increased from $9 billion a year to $11 billion a year, Chavonne said.
"That is $2 billion of new investment each and every year," he said.
He made reference to ground being broken on a $130 million VA Medical Complex on Raeford Road with the promise of more than 650 jobs; the Interstate 295 construction, where the state will spend more than $1 billion to complete the connection from I-95 to Cliffdale Road in 2016; and of the city's two four-year universities, which are embarking on multimillion-dollar capital campaigns.
"We know that we face challenges," he said. "Our crime rates, while falling also 3 1/2percent this year under the leadership of a new chief and innovative ideas, are still too high. We have yet to find the answer for the homeless in our community. An unemployment rate of 8 percent in our city means too many of our citizens face each day without a job. We should be embarrassed about having only one public pool in a city of 200,000 people."
Michael Futch / email@example.com