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How Will Defense Department Reductions Impact Marylanders?

See what Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade had to say about proposed changes.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, previewed the fiscal 2015 budget request in a Feb. 24 press conference. (Credit: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp, Department of Defense)
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, previewed the fiscal 2015 budget request in a Feb. 24 press conference. (Credit: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp, Department of Defense)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel previewed the 2015 budget at a press conference Monday where he outlined plans to cut military spending through base closures and realignment, reduction in force and scaling back of benefits and subsidies, among other measures.

The impact may be felt in different ways around Maryland.

Hagel said that he would request an additional round of Base Realignment and Closure initiatives, which he said he has asked for the past two years and Congress has denied. With less funding, he said, the military had to do what it could to reduce its infrastructure. He did not elaborate on which bases he would propose closing.

An Aberdeen Proving Ground spokeswoman said that what that would mean for the Harford County base remains to be seen.

"It is too early to determine what impact proposed downsizing would have on
Aberdeen Proving Ground," Adriane Foss, of Aberdeen Proving Ground's public affairs office, told Patch. "What I can tell you is that as an Army hub of science and technology, Aberdeen Proving Ground will remain committed to providing dedicated service in support of our nation's warfighters."

The base has 21,000 employees and is the largest employer in Harford County, where it is headquartered, according to Aberdeen Proving Ground. It also includes the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, which was recently dispatched to destroy chemical weapons from Syria.

A spokesman for Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, which employs more than 54,000 people, told The Baltimore Sun that it was too early to speak to the effects of the proposal, but the nature of the work based there—including the National Security Agency (NSA) and Defense Information Systems Agency—put it in a position for growth.

"Fort Meade is clearly the cybercenter of gravity for the Department of Defense, and that mission is going to continue to grow," Chad Jones, spokesman for Fort Meade, told The Baltimore Sun.

In his remarks, Hagel said having a "technological edge" was one of the military's focuses going forward.

On the other hand, reducing military personnel across various agencies was important to reflect the changing times "after Iraq and Afghanistan," Hagel said.

The reduction in force would be as follows:
  • Army from 520,000 to between 440,000 and 450,000 (13-percent cut)
  • National Guard from 355,000 to 335,000; reserves from 205,000 to 195,000 (5-percent cut)
  • Marines from 190,000 to 182,000 (4-percent cut)
According to U.S. Census data, there are 29,160 active-duty personnel plus 16,000 reserve and National Guard members in Maryland.

Half of the Navy's cruiser ships would be laid up for modernization and the Air Force's fleet of A-10 aircrafts would be retired as part of Hagel's proposal.

Hagel said that housing payments, commissary subsidies and benefits may also be affected in the 2015 budget.

Housing allowances would cover 95 percent rather than 100 percent of housing expenses, according to Hagel's proposal.

Over three years, the $1.4 billion in subsidies to commissaries would be reduced by $1 billion.

Hagel said the plan for benefits would be to "simplify and modernize" the TRICARE insurance plan.

In the military, "total pay and benefits increased 40 percent faster than the private sector between 2001 and 2012," Hagel said, "and while that was the right thing to do at the time, we can’t continue at that rate over the-long term," according to a report from the American Forces Press Service.

"We recognize that no one serving our nation in uniform is overpaid for what they do for our country," Hagel said.

"But if we continue on the current course," he continued, "we will inevitably have to either cut into compensation even more deeply and abruptly, or we will have to deprive our men and women of the training and equipment they need to succeed in battle."

The budget will be submitted in March, U.S. Naval Institute News reported.
Buzz Beeler February 25, 2014 at 07:26 PM
The MD economy has always depended on the federal government. SS in Woodlawn and the close proximity to Washington provides a huge tax base for MD's coffers.
Kirk Adams February 26, 2014 at 06:46 AM
"The impact may be felt in different ways around Maryland, where there are two military bases". What happened to Andrews Air force Base/Joint Base Andrews, Fort Detrick, US Army Research Laboratory (Adelphi), Walter Reed National Medical Center? I guess just left out...
Elizabeth Janney (Editor) February 26, 2014 at 06:48 AM
Thanks, Kirk Adams. We fixed the error.
Buzz Beeler February 26, 2014 at 08:58 AM
Kirk, the National Guard air base in Middle River may also go. I believe that is where the older A-10 Warthogs are housed.
Kirk Adams February 26, 2014 at 10:02 AM
I forgot about Middle River. Actually, I think there are several National Guard facilities in MD. Not sure how they are funded. I know AF is looking at dropping the A-10s, but they might keep them in the reserves or the Air National Guard. So Middle River might be OK.
Bob Higginbotham February 26, 2014 at 06:48 PM
Having been in the military and worked with them for many years I can see some reductions especially, in procurement, where two engines are being developed for one aircraft at a cost of several billion dollars. That is a waste. The plan is to not only reduce manpower but also the reduce the limited benefits they receive. That is so wrong especially when civilian so-called workers are getting a pay raise. It is obvious Obama and company are deliberately stripping this country of its most important asset while continuing to reward inefficiency and ineptness.
Buzz Beeler February 27, 2014 at 12:14 AM
Bob Obama recently made a big speech about taking care of the vets. He's not exactly off to a good start. Shinseki was just subpoenaed for having lavish $6 million conferences and then the Daily Caller reported the VA is destroying vets paper work to avoid the back log. Shinseki should be fired.
g37hotshot March 13, 2014 at 10:58 AM
It seems like almost every time freezes or cuts are made, the military is getting hit. Why haven't any of our politicians taken any pay cuts or cuts to their staff/benefits? And of they want to make somewhat logical cuts, maybe it should be to the overinflated costs of supplying their offices (the rumor of the $60 stapler is pretty accurate). Going through civilian contractors seems to have added to the costs. And I am pretty sure our commander in chief could survive with a few less vacations. And as to the Middle River A-10's; those are gone along with all the others. Rumor has it that they will be replaced with cargo planes. You know, the exact same cargo planes that were just taken from the same base these past couple of years. The C130J's were taken and given to active duty. They were replaced with brand new C27's with the story of them being the way of the future for cargo flights and then those were taken and shipped straight to retirement last year. Supposedly, there no longer seemed to be a need in MD for such planes. But get rid of the A10's and now there is a need? How did that miraculously come about? Why wasn't the original cargo squadron kept and the A10's closed down? It would have saved a lot more money. And now new equipment must be bought, the pilots retrained, AGAIN. Instead of going towards what is actually needed, or maintaining what has already been paid for, our tax dollars are just funding politicians' whims. Open your wallets people, politics have infiltrated everything.

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