Well if you are going to screw something up, might as well go the distance. Army post nationwide, are feeling the budget crunch, due to diversion of dollars to help fight the war in Iraq. A shortfall, to the tune of $530 Million at that. Causing the inability to pay utility bills, buy office equipment, keeping all dining halls open, buying chlorine for the pools where soldier’s kids take swimming lessons, or even buying enough feed for the horses that help carry soldier’s caskets to their graves.
A diversion of dollars to help fight the war in Iraq has helped create a $530 million shortfall for Army posts at home and abroad, leaving some unable to pay utility bills or even cut the grass.
In San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston hasn’t been able to pay its $1.4 million monthly utility bill since March, prompting workers in many of the post’s administrative buildings to get automated disconnection notices.
Fort Bragg in North Carolina can’t afford to buy pens, paper or other office supplies until the new fiscal year starts in October.
And in Kentucky, Fort Knox had to close one of its eight dining halls for a month and lay off 133 contract workers.
“Every time something goes away it impacts a person … a soldier or their family or one of our civilians,” said Col. Wendy Martinson, garrison commander at Fort Sam Houston, which has 27,300 military and civilian workers. “I’m charged with taking care of them, not taking things away from them.”
Garrisons function as the city halls of Army installations, providing services such as garbage removal, mail delivery and firefighting. The Army’s Installation Management Agency is $530 million short of what it needs through Oct. 1 to fund garrisons at the 117 installations it oversees in the United States, Europe and Asia, agency spokesman Stephen Oertwig said.
But one thing is for sure, let it have something to do with a Republican’s area, and then they get worried like the rest of us.
“Every day we’re looking at what are those services that are required to keep the Army going and where can we get efficiencies,” Oertwig said. “We’re looking to get a dollar’s worth of service out of 90 cents or less in some cases.”
That alarms U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican whose district includes Fort Sam Houston.
In a letter to Army Secretary Francis Harvey, Smith said he worries the budget crisis will affect Fort Sam Houston’s ability to accommodate the 11,000 additional personnel being sent there starting next year by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
“That Fort Sam cannot even pay for basic post operations is, frankly, Mr. Secretary, a disgrace,” he said.
Welcome the the reality of “Stay the Course” Congressman Smith! Enjoy the product of people like you and your ilk.