Government cuts are not only necessary but absolutely necessary. After Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush’s outlandish government growth, which somehow got lost on the political right, which Clinton curtailed and now spending cuts are at an historic low, not since the end of the Korean War has there been such small government growth and spending, despite Fox and right wing radio propaganda to the contrary. However, the cuts are going to possibly now affect America’s readiness if military action is needed.
In cases where only part of a brigade is deploying from Fort Campbell, some soldiers are being pushed into field training while others are held back until their departure date draws nearer, spokesman Bob Jenkins said.
“That way, we’re able to meet the requirements for the people being trained for deployment and make sure they had all the things that were required,” Jenkins said. “If people were supposed to go out and shoot 500 rounds one day, they went out and fired 500 rounds. That didn’t change.”
The 77th Fighter Squadron, one of three that make up the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw, was told to stand down in April after it returned from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. It was one of several groups in the 9th Air Force ordered to idle jets for weeks in response to the automatic budget cuts.Col. Clark Quinn, the F-16 wing’s vice commander, said the pilots were given the vacation time they would have normally taken and then put into ground training, such as on computer simulators. It gave them a chance to rest, and polish up some of their technical skills, he said.”They were not flying. Their aircraft were just parked,” Quinn said. The maintenance support units worked on other aircraft to stay sharp, he said.
The pilots and airmen are now back on their regular training schedules, Quinn said.
Along with maintenance and training delays, some soldiers are being put to new tasks while not deployed.
Capt. J. Stephen Donaldson, company commander of 551st Military Police at Fort Campbell, is teaching soldiers who recently returned from deployment how to handle post security. Donaldson’s job entails taking 72 soldiers, from the infantry and supply, and teaching them how to use pepper spray and work security at the entrance gates to the post. The soldiers will work security on a six-month rotation.
The soldiers will fill in for two platoons from the 716th MP Battalion deployed overseas. With two more platoons headed out soon, the extra hands are needed to avoid hiring private contractors.
For the soldiers, shuffling training schedules and cutbacks are difficult, but nothing they say they can’t handle. “It sucks, but you do what you need to do,” Spc. Chris Allen said after returning to Fort Campbell in October from six months in Afghanistan.