Sec. McHugh visits Fort Stewart, discusses budget challenges - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Secretary McHugh visits Fort Stewart

The Secretary of the Army John McHugh The Secretary of the Army John McHugh

Fort Stewart played host to an important visitor on Tuesday.

The Secretary of the Army, the Honorable John McHugh, visited the region Tuesday and met with Army leaders and disccused some of the challenges the military is facing.

With the looming loss of nearly 1,900 soldiers and the 2nd Brigade at Fort Stewart, Secretary McHugh addressed the financial cuts that can be seen not only here, but across the Army.

"Downsizing is never easy," said McHugh. "This is something every post-war period has brought. It think we saw this coming, but never-the-less when you go through it its a challege."

And it's not just soldiers who may feel the effects.

The Department of Defense and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel instructed at least a 20 percent reduction of civilian employees at the headquarters level. 

However, McHugh says those impacts will be minimal locally.

"We're trying to be very mindful of any decisions we make and the impact it will have upon them. They're an irreplaceable, important part of this team, and we appreciate all the sacrifices that they've made," said McHugh.

While sequestration continues to be an inevitable consequence of budget challenges for the Army, the secretary's concern and focus is the future.

"What I worry about is how far are we going to have to come down beyond this point. If you look at sequestration, as it is currently planed through 2023, our end strength will probably have to come down to 420,000 from the 490,000 or so that we're working toward right now. But I've got confidence that we can meet those challenge," said McHugh.

McHugh also talked about sexual assualt and sexual harrassment as another major challenge that the Army faces.

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