By the end of 2017, the Army will reduce its forces by 14 percent to 490,000 soldiers from a wartime high of 570,000. This is a decision that will not only affect military members and their families, but also has the potential to affect the surrounding communities.

Due to the Budget Control Act of 2011, senior leaders across Fort Hood are being encouraged to reach out to the local communities of Central Texas and help them understand what these changes mean to them.

At a recent luncheon held by the Temple Lions Club, the commander of the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, Col. Mark Simerly, was invited to be their guest speaker and shed some light on the subject.

In attendance were former Temple Mayor, J.W. Perry, and the current mayor of Belton, Jim Covington, who was responsible for inviting Simerly.

“The communities of Temple and Belton, Texas, have a very close relationship with the 4th (Sustainment Brigade) — they are our adopted unit,” Covington said.

It is this type of relationship that makes it imperative for leaders such as Simerly to engage local communities and keep them informed about changes that may be coming to Fort Hood.

“I was asked to come out here because of an interest in a recent Army decision that affects our community, and that’s the force restructuring and stationing decision that is going to cause an overall 14 percent reduction in our forces across the Army by 2017.” Simerly said.

He went on to explain that he is not an expert in force restructuring, but an expert in logistics, and a sustainment commander on Fort Hood so he would be referring to some recent announcements from the Army, and from the post senior commander, Maj. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardi.

“I’ll start off with the bottom line, and that is that Fort Hood did very well in this stationing and restructuring decision,” he said. “The Army is going to a 14 percent overall cut in terms of our troop strength, and at Fort Hood we will only see a reduction of 7 percent by 2017.”

According to recent announcements, this will result in a cut of about 2,900 soldiers from Fort Hood’s population of more than 48,000 soldiers.

“The Army is inactivating brigade combat teams at 12 different installations including two in Germany, but only one at Fort Hood,” he said. “These reductions will allow the Army to increase and grow in some other areas including aviation, special operations, missile defense and cyber capabilities.”

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