The Copperas Cove Rotary Club heard from retired Col. William Parry III on Jan. 31 about upcoming fiscal decisions and possible effects on the Army and Fort Hood.
Parry is the executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, a nonprofit corporation that promotes the importance of Fort Hood and defense-related industries in Central Texas.
Parry said Congress would be voting on unresolved federal budget cuts in the next 60 days and discussed his personal views on possible outcomes for the military installation.
By March 1, Congress must decide whether sequestration will be implemented or not. Sequestration refers to mandatory budget cuts that may affect Defense Department discretionary funding and non-defense programs such as Medicare.
The sequestration package calls for $1.2 trillion in spending cuts during the next 10 years.
Implementing full sequestration would result in an additional $7 billion in cuts to the Army budget and reducing personnel by 100,000. Defense spending is already planning an estimated $487 billion in cuts and a reduction of 80,000 personnel by 2017.
In preparation for lean times, the Army has a risk mitigation plan, Parry said. No actions have been taken yet, but possible measures include an immediate civilian hiring freeze, the termination of temporary employees and the reduction of base operations support by 30 percent.
Wounded warrior programs will be protected and the training of deploying units will be fully funded, he said.
“I’m fairly confident that Fort Hood will be fine,” Parry said. “We have friends in the Pentagon who have served at Fort Hood and know it well; they know what it is capable of. Fort Hood will continue to be a strong DoD installation.”
Rotary members were glad to hear Parry’s words.
“I’m feeling both fear and relief,” said member Kirby Lack. “The figures are daunting, but the information about Fort Hood is great news.”
Members of the Rotary asked Parry on how to prepare for the possible changes.
“Keep improving local schools and make sure you continue to embrace the soldiers and their families,” Parry said.