Proposed military cuts could affect South Mississippi

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The cuts proposed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel could very well hit home and affect thousands of South Mississippians.

Slashing the U.S. Army by 72,000 to 82,000 soldiers is getting a lot of attention nationwide, but other cuts suggested for the Air Force, Navy and National Guard would have a big impact right here.

The plan calls for smaller pay raises, smaller tax free housing allowances and some military families may have to pay more for healthcare.

Major Marnee Losurdo with Keesler Air Force Base's 403rd wing said, "Right now it is really too soon to tell how or what implications it is going to have for the wing or the Air Force because the announcement has just been made."

While this year's cuts are uncertain, last year's cuts will soon be felt by the Air Force's 403rd division.

"It was announced that our 815th air squadron is going to close in June," Losurdo said. "The Hurricane Hunters the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron will still remain here but the other squadron is scheduled to close and ten of our aircraft will go somewhere, but we do not know where that somewhere is."

Those who represent South Mississippi in Washington are promising to fight the proposed cuts.

Congressman Steven Palazzo said, "No amount of cuts to our nation's military will address the real driver of our debt and deficits: out of control mandatory spending."

Senator Roger Wicker said he is astounded by the proposal. "I will fight to ensure that our armed forces have the equipment, training and personnel required to keep our nation secure," Wicker said.

Mississippi's Senior Senator Thad Cochran said, "We must ensure that our men and women in uniform have what they need to remain the best trained and equipped force in the world. "

If these cuts are made it would also impact South Mississippi as a community. According to the Department of Defense the Air Force, Navy and Air National Guard Bases have about a $1.5 billion impact on our economy.

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