• September 19, 2014

Local officials discuss defense speech

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Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:51 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Colleen Flaherty

Fort Hood Herald

Although President Barack Obama's speech on the future of the U.S. military Thursday was short on details, local experts said Fort Hood is in a good position to survive dramatic, forthcoming cuts to the defense budget.

Fort Hood officials declined to comment on the speech before receiving installation-specific directives from the Defense Department, but retired Col. Bill Parry said the speech was "not really surprising."

Parry, a former Fort Hood garrison commander, heads the Killeen-based Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, which promotes the sustainability of the "Great Place" and defense-related industries in Central Texas.

Parry said that while the media had taken to referring to the speech and accompanying "National Military Strategy" document as a "defense strategy," they are really the findings of a strategic review of the defense budget initiated in May 2011 by Obama and then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to inform future decisions about spending.

Of the 10 "missions" identified as the Defense Department's most important in the review, Parry said, Fort Hood has units that perform or have performed all of them, barring "operate in space/cyberspace" and "maintain an effective nuclear deterrent."

Brad Thayer, a political science professor at Baylor University, also said Fort Hood's relevance to the fight will withstand budget cuts.

"The short answer is, I foresee only modest cuts to Fort Hood, given its size and importance, which will remain even as Obama's cuts are enacted," he said.

One additional, valuable Fort Hood asset - especially in a time of austerity - said Parry, is its cost-effectiveness.

In the last Base Closure and Realignment review, in 2005, "there was one Army installation of the 97 measured that scored a perfect '10' for that attribute: Fort Hood. Fort Bragg was second at 8.94 points."

Parry did warn, however, that things could get more complicated once Congress begins discussing the flushed-out defense budget, to be released next month.

Contact Colleen Flaherty at colleenf@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHFortHood.

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