10th Mountain Division submits scenarios for 25 percent budget cuts
By GORDON BLOCK | Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times | Published: September 14, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. — The headquarters of 10th Mountain Division has provided the Army its recommendations for how it could slash a quarter of its budget and manpower.
With the proposal in the hands of the Army, questions remain on what kind of action will happen next and when a decision will be made.
The post formally submitted its recommendations before the Army’s deadline Wednesday.
On Thursday, Lt. Col. Tage J. Rainsford, the division public affairs officer, said the post would not release its recommendations until they were reviewed by Army Secretary John M. McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, who ordered the recommendations, and a final decision was returned.
It was not revealed how many people or how much money would have to be cut to meet the Army’s goal. However, Col. Rainsford said, the headquarters has an authorized end strength of about 500 soldiers, meaning as many as 125 soldiers could be facing cuts.
The recommendations on how to make cuts were in response to an Aug. 14 memo from Mr. McHugh and Gen. Odierno to headquarters elements at the two-star level and above, such as the local division.
“Let there be no mistake, aggregate reductions WILL TAKE PLACE,” the memo reads. “The money is gone; our mission now is to determine how best to allocate these cuts while maintaining readiness. We expect Army leaders, military and civilian, to seize this opportunity to re-shape our Army. This effort will take PRIORITY OVER ALL other Headquarters, Department of the Army activities.”
The budget and staffing reduction planning stems from the approximately $50 billion in cuts that the Army must figure out for the 2014 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, in connection with the long-term federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
George B. Wright, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said Thursday that he did not know the timetable that would be used for the implementation of the recommendations. He said that in the past, staff and budget cuts have been done over the course of multiple years so as to avoid a shock that could disrupt operations.
It also was unclear how civilian workers would be affected by the division headquarters planning.
Jeffrey W. Zuhlke, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 400, said Friday that he had not heard whether the headquarters cuts would affect the limited number of its attached civilian employees, which he said was fewer than 10 people.
Following a letter from Reps. Bill Young and Pete Visclosky, both of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the American Federation of Government Employees sent a letter to Mr. McHugh on Thursday.
The union’s letter called on the Pentagon to scrap the across-the-board cuts, and instead make reductions of individual contracts and services. The union also asked for the military to balance the cuts between contractors and government employees.