KILLEEN — There’s a steep uphill climb to rational discussion of the Defense Department’s proposed 2015 budget, this month’s guest speaker told the local chapter of the Military Officers Association of America during their monthly meeting Friday.
Retired Col. Bill Parry, executive director of the Killeen-based Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, spoke on where the Army is headed based on the 2015 budget. The steep climb is created by a lack of veterans in Congress and the current political climate.
Congress has the fewest percentage of veterans since the Vietnam War era, Parry said. There are 20 in the Senate and 89 in the 435-seat House.
“When you’re looking at trying to sit down and have a discussion with elected officials ... you have to realize the people you’re talking to don’t have a clue what you’re talking about,” Parry said. “That ought to just scare the hell out of you.”
Parry also said that despite the cries to repeal sequestration from organizations such as MOAA and the Association of the U.S. Army — as well as the Defense Department itself — he’s not so confident Congress will agree. A recent report from the department highlighted the negative impacts the law will have on national security should it continue for the remainder of its 10-year lifespan.
“Sequestration is what’s causing the problems right now,” Parry said. “There ain’t a congressional official in D.C. who doesn’t think sequestration is a great idea.”
Democrats like it because it protects entitlement programs and Republicans like it because it prevents raising taxes, he said.
“Sequestration in Washington, D.C., is OK,” Parry said.
As far as the impact on Fort Hood, Parry said he doesn’t know. A round of base realignment and closure would likely benefit Central Texas, he added. The only way to grow Fort Hood would be for other bases to close or shrink.
As far as possible perception changes about Fort Hood due to the second mass shooting in less than five years, Parry said don’t worry. As long as the Army is certain that if it sends soldiers and families to Fort Hood, they will be housed, educated and supported by community infrastructure, it will. “That’s what we’ve got to focus on locally,” Parry said.
MOAA meets the third Friday of the month at Yank Sing in Killeen. It is open to active-duty and former military officers of all branches.
Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.