FORT HUACHUCA — The Pentagon announced Wednesday that Fort Huachuca is losing $30 million originally tabbed for a building on post as part of the $3.6 billion in Department of Defense funding being diverted to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The $30 million was to be used to construct a “ground transport equipment building” on Fort Huachuca, according to a Pentagon document listing the lost, or at least delayed, projects.
The money was originally directed toward the U.S. Army post in Sierra Vista in fiscal year 2018, with construction of the building scheduled for 2020, the document states.
President Donald Trump declared a border emergency in March, which allowed the $3.6 billion in DoD funds to be diverted to construction of the border wall. Multiple lawsuits have been filed in an effort to thwart the move, including some by conservation groups in Cochise County, who point to possible damage to the San Pedro River ecology as a basis for their claims, among other reasons.
Fort Huachuca officials did not have immediate comment on the matter Wednesday evening.
“We just received official notification of this project being put on hold this afternoon. Fort Huachuca leaders are still evaluating the impact,” Fort Huachuca public affairs officer Angela L. Camara wrote in a text message to the Herald/Review.
Camara did not have a time frame for a response from Fort Huachuca officials.
Following Trump’s emergency order in March, Arizona Sen. Martha McSally asked Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan if using defense funds to pay for construction of the border wall would hurt Arizona, according to Arizona Public Media.
“There are four projects in Arizona that are appropriated in (fiscal year 2019) and you broadly said those projects across the country will not be impacted by this, just to be clear. Correct, Mr. Secretary?” McSally asked, according to AZPM.
“That is correct,” Shanahan answered.
In a press release Wednesday afternoon, McSally said “unforeseen environmental issues at the construction site” had already delayed the Fort Huachuca project.
“We need to secure our border and protect our military; we can and should do both,” McSally said in the release. “As soon as the emergency was declared, I went to the mat to fight for Arizona projects and succeeded by receiving assurances from the highest levels of the Department of Defense. However, this one project at Ft. Huachuca was already delayed because of ongoing environmental cleanup that is taking longer than expected.
“The fact of the matter is that had the Army completed this sooner, the project would not have been delayed and would not have even been up for discussion. I spoke to Acting Army Secretary (Ryan) McCarthy to convey my frustration with the delay and he assured me that this project will be completed in a timely manner once the cleanup is complete.”
Arizona District 2 Representative Ann Kirkpatrick released a statement decrying the “attack” on the fort.
“I represent the district that is home to Fort Huachuca, our backyard reaches borderlands; these attacks are personal to us,” she said.
“Today, the President has made it clear he is willing to protect his own political chamber over our military resources. And ultimately, this type of decision-making puts all Americans at risk.”
“Fort Huachuca is such a vital asset to our local economy and our entire national security; this decision harms important planned projects intended to support our military in Southern Arizona, across the United States, and overseas,” she said.