By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - The Fort Hood garrison commander briefed members of the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce about troop levels on post for the next year and facility projects Thursday at a Governmental Affairs Committee luncheon.
Col. Mark Freitag said his visit with the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce would be one of many to communities surrounding Fort Hood to help strengthen the relationships between them and the installation.
"I am on a traveling road show to tell the communities about what is going on at Fort Hood," Freitag said.
With more than 20 brigades stationed at Fort Hood and several deployed, the Army post currently has a population of about 89,000, with a little less than half of that being civilians, contractors and family members, Freitag said. There are roughly 48,000 soldiers on post.
The community, however, will experience many more brigades deploying during the next six to eight months, he said.
"The population at Fort Hood is going to go down for about a year," he said.
Estimates show about 25,000 soldiers remaining stationed here within a year, Freitag said.
Another factor contributing to the decline in soldiers will be the redeployment of the 4th Aviation Combat Brigade to Fort Bliss. It will, however, be replaced with a smaller division that will make the total soldier assignments at Fort Hood about 46,000 before the deployments.
Freitag also discussed numerous projects and programs occurring on post.
The All Army Combatives Tournament is scheduled to come to Fort Hood in May, he said. Also in May, a simulated plane crash, which will include emergency response teams from across Central Texas, will take place at the Robert Gray Army Airfield.
Freitag said other projects under way at Fort Hood include:
Construction on at least eight child-development centers and one youth center
Additions to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center
Creation of two Marine Reserve Units stationed at Hood Army Airfield
Construction of the new Fort Hood Stadium, which may have a joint-use agreement with Killeen Independent School District
Creation of the North Fort Hood Mobilization Training Center
Building the Air Assault Training tower and the Confidence Training Course
"A lot the things going on at Fort Hood are trend-setting," Freitag said. "What happens in the Army starts at Fort Hood."
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.