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Apr 12, 2013 7:14 PM by Erika Flores

Army gets community feedback about possible soldier cuts at Ft. Huachuca

SIERRA VISTA-The United States Army is cutting soldiers from its force, and Ft. Huachuca is doing with it can to minimize the impact to Southern Arizona.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 required the U.S. Army to reduce its force from 570 thousand soldiers to 490 thousand by 2017.

Most of the cuts will come from brigade combat teams.

Ft. Huachuca doesn't have any of those, but it does have enablers or support teams, and they may feel the impact as well.

Ft. Huachuca hosted a listening session Friday where the community could talk about the importance of the fort.

"Rural communities such as ours do not have another industry to fall back on," said Amanda Baillie, executive director of the Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce.

Baillie said many of the city's businesses wouldn't be here if it weren't for Ft. Huachuca.

"Approximately 27 thousand jobs are created because of Ft. Huachuca's existence and that's indirectly and directly," said Baillie.

Ft. Huachuca has about 12,000 - 16,000 soldiers and civilians working at the fort.

"It's estimated that for every job on Ft. Huachuca there are two jobs in the community," said Baillie.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 required the U.S. Army to cut 80,000 by 2017.

"We're tied at the hip. Ft. Huachuca is not successful if we don't have a strong successful community," said Colonel Dan McFarland.

No one in the room wants to see a downsize.

"We all recognize that the fate of Cochise County and the fate of the fort are one in the same," said Jessica Floyd with Congressman Barber's office.

The army will look at an analysis of the fort then decide whether it will cut soldiers from the fort and how many.

"It's very unlikely we would take a cut of more than 1,000 people," said Colonel McFarland.

The community just hopes the army will see how vital every soldier and civilian on this fort is to them.

"Ft. Huachuca is the life bread of this community," said Baillie.

These cuts were not scheduled in anticipation of sequestration, but Ft. Huachuca officials tell News 4 Tucson, depending on how much longer sequestration lasts, there could be deeper cuts.

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