U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today sharply criticized Department of Defense plans to cut 4,350 soldiers in Georgia-based military bases as part of a nationwide plan to cut Army forces by 40,000 troops in 2017.
Isakson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said he learned of the cuts in a phone call earlier today with Army Secretary John McHugh.
Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Ga., will see a net loss of approximately 950 soldiers, and Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., will see a net loss of 3,400 soldiers, Isakson said in his news release.
Because the Pentagon failed to give senators a head's up, Isakson said he immediately took steps in block a Senate confirmation vote on the nomination of a new Department of Defense congressional liaison
Additional cuts to the number of civilian personnel at military bases are expected, according to Isakson, but have not yet been announced by the Department of Defense.
"I am demanding answers from the Department of Defense on how they are justifying these troop cuts in Georgia," Isakson said. "I have also taken steps to block a Senate vote on the president's nomination of a new congressional liaison for the Department of Defense in light of the Department's failure to give Congress a heads up before these cuts were made public."
He said he will "continue to fight to see to it that we preserve every soldier in Georgia that we can. We cannot afford to reduce our military readiness at a time when the threats to our security here at home and throughout the world are growing at an alarming rate.
"Instead," the senator added, "we should be using our military to send a clear signal to the rest of the world that America has no intention of standing down in the fight against the threat of terrorism worldwide."
U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., also criticized the planned cuts.
"When national security alerts are at an all-time high and ISIS is recruiting new terrorists daily, scaling back our military is nonsensical," said Perdue, a member of the Senate Budget and Foreign Relations Committees.
In his news release, Perdue said he raised his objections in his own call with McHugh, citing the impact on Fort Benning, Fort Stewart and Fort Gordon.
"Georgia's strong military community cannot be significantly reduced at a time when we need it most," Perdue said.