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Trump budget plan includes $85M in construction for Midlands bases

Chuck Crumbo
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The reception center at Fort Jackson is where all new soldiers are processed before being shipped to their basic training units. (Photo/Chuck Crumbo)President Donald Trump’s spending plan for the 2018 fiscal year includes $85 million for construction projects at Fort Jackson and Shaw Air Force Base.

In addition, the Trump administration is asking Congress to green-light work on a new round of base closings, commonly called BRAC. The last round in 2005 proved to be a major boost for Midlands bases as new missions were added or expanded at the installations, adding more than 1,000 jobs.

The $547.5 billion Defense Department spending plan, released Tuesday by the White House, provides $60 million for the first phase of a new reception battalion project at Fort Jackson, the largest training post for soldiers entering the U.S. Army.

The project involves construction of a dining facility, as well as a facility where troops are issued uniforms and other Uncle Sam-approved garb, lawn equipment buildings and renovation of an existing facility.

The project is needed to further consolidate processing for initial entry training operations, improve housing, food services, material management and security of operations, according to Defense Department documents.

The reception facility requires space for 2,200 beds as recruits are received, processed and then shipped to their basic combat units. The reception battalion also houses holdovers – troops who didn’t graduate with their units – and other trainees who may have been delayed because of injuries or other issues.

“At present, only 25% of assigned facilities are deemed adequate,” according to the document providing justification for the project. “The majority of facilities are over 40 years old and beyond their economic life.”

At Shaw, the Army is seeking $25 million to construct a mission training complex to support U.S. Army Central headquartered at the Sumter base.

“The project will provide effective training in the command and control of individual as well as combined operations in a simulated tactical environment,” the budget document stated.

Presently, training is conducted in temporary modular buildings that are being used until a mission training complex is completed. The temporary facilities do not support expanded training needs for battle command exercises using increased simulations and limit the Army’s ability to fulfill its mission, the document said.

The budget request stated that the Pentagon is aiming for another round of base closings to start in the 2021 fiscal year. The military, which has advocated since 2013 for Congress to approve a base realignment and closure (BRAC) process, claims that recent reductions in personnel and modernization of equipment has led to as much as 20% excess capacity “spread across the military departments,” the documents said. The Pentagon estimates BRAC could produce an annual $2 billion or more in savings by 2027, according to the documents.

In the most recent BRAC, which was announced in May 2005, Fort Jackson and McEntire Joint National Guard Base added 1,715 jobs and Shaw added another 1,457 jobs. Each base received new missions, and Shaw was picked as the new home for the Third Army headquarters, which is now designated as U.S. Army Central.

Trump’s spending plans also includes a 2.1% pay raise for military personnel starting in January and a 1.9% bump for civilian Defense Department employees.

Reach Chuck Crumbo at 803-726-7542.

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