While state leaders vowed to fight the planned shutdown of four bases in the Atlanta area and Athens, they were pleased to learn that Georgia looked to gain more troops and personnel than any other state except Maryland.
“You probably have 47 states that would change places with Georgia on this report,” Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who sits on a panel that directs defense spending.
The bases slated for closure — Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station-Atlanta in Marietta and the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens — are in urban or suburban areas of fast-growing North Georgia.
They were among 180 military installations recommended by the Pentagon in its latest round of base closures. Historically most bases on the list for closure end up being shut down; a Georgia loss would be the state’s first.
“We’re not taking defeat as an option,” pronounced Gov. Sonny Perdue, standing outside the gates of Fort McPherson and vowing the state would lobby hard to avoid being on the final closure list expected late this year.
Fort McPherson, Atlanta’s seventh-largest employer, would lose the most jobs of any base on Georgia’s hit list — 4,141. Even if all four bases were shuttered, though, Georgia would end up with 7,423 more defense jobs because of gains at other bases.
Among the winners are Fort Benning near Columbus with 9,839 new jobs — the third-largest gain for any base in the nation — and Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base near St. Marys with 3,367 new personnel — an increase of more than a third of its current 8,000 workforce.
In Marietta, the Naval Air Station-Atlanta is targeted for closure — a loss of 1,274 military personnel and 224 civilian workers. However, the adjacent Dobbins Air Reserve Base, which currently has a workforce of about 1,000, will grow by 118 jobs.
Also on the plus side, Robins Air Force Base near Warner Robins will have a net gain of 749 new jobs — all contractors, and Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta will net 575 — all military.
No personnel changes were proposed for Fort Stewart near Savannah and Fort Gordon near Augusta