Garrison Command tasked with eliminating more than 130 positions

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Fort Knox officials trying to make reductions without layoffs

By Marty Finley

Fort Knox officials are in the process of reducing the post’s workforce in a manner officials hope will remove redundancies without leading to significant job loss.

The directive to reduce staffing is part of a planned civilian workforce reduction of around 8,700 positions throughout the U.S. Army by Sept. 30, 2012, that, at Fort Knox, primarily is expected to affect U.S. Army Accessions Command and Garrison Command.

Garrison Command has been tasked with trimming its 715 civilian positions to 582, which would result in the elimination of more than 130 positions, according to the Fort Knox Public Affairs Office.

The trim follows the inactivation of Accessions Command earlier this year as part of Department of Defense and Army efficiency reviews. The inactivation will result in about 130 civilian positions being eliminated, according to Fort Knox PAO.

Fort Knox Public Affairs Officer Kyle Hodges said the post is unsure at this time how the reductions will be made but they are searching for ways to remove positions without workers losing jobs.

“We’re not getting rid of jobs at this point,” he said. “We’re getting rid of positions.”

Hodges said Fort Knox is trying to reshape its workforce structure through other measures, such as voluntary early retirement, attrition and hiring freezes. The post also is looking into halting extensions for temporary or term employees past their tour or after September 2012.

The reductions across the Army is part of Department of Defense decisions indicated in the president’s 2012 budget, which requires a reduction in civilian positions to meet decreased staffing levels.  

“With the tools afforded, several dozen Accessions Command employees have received employment with other Army organizations, mostly on Fort Knox. Meanwhile, others have taken advantage of the early retirement incentives,” said Charlie Wilson, U.S. Army Accessions Command chief of staff.  “However, our work is not done. We will continue to assist our remaining staff in any way we can in finding other federal employment options.”

Fort Knox’s population grew by about 5,000 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure initiative that started in 2005 and wrapped up this past September, but Fort Knox officials said the move of basic training duties to Fort Benning, Ga., has diminished the demands on Garrison Command to feed, train and transport soldiers on post.

“Similar to many families that have to make tough decisions when their income drops or they have additional family members to support, we too have to take a hard look at ways to continue fulfilling our commitment to supporting soldiers and their families here at Fort Knox,” said Emmet Holley, deputy to the Fort Knox garrison commander, in a statement.  “We recognize that some of our Garrison missions have recently fluctuated, and, as a result, we will work to find efficiencies as part of meeting our obligation.”

Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry said he believes the community should be vigilant and sensitive to changes at Fort Knox but the size of the workforce at Fort Knox should be able to absorb any impact from the reductions. Berry said it appears many of the positions are vacant and reductions simply will streamline functions. Should job losses come, he said, he believes employees should be able to shift to another position on post.

“I don’t see us as losing any employment,” he said.

He also said the community has been blessed to see so many job gains in recent years through BRAC.

“Overall, we’re pretty pleased to see what’s going on at Fort Knox and what will be going on in the future,” he said.
Hodges said post officials are looking for ways to make the reductions occur as smooth as possible.

“Hopefully we can do it without anyone getting left off,” he said.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.