WASHINGTON — The Association of the U.S. Army honored its Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter and several Central Texans Monday during the organization’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
At more than 10,000 members, the chapter was officially recognized as the organization’s largest — a title vice president John Crutchfield said the group was happy to secure after carrying on a “friendly, inter-postal rivalry” with the Fort Bragg, N.C., chapter for some time.
About 100 civilians and 20 soldiers represented the chapter at the conference. The footprint was much smaller than in years past, with the Army this year limiting authorized active-duty attendance at the professional development seminar to two-, three- and four-star generals and their sergeants major due to budget constraints.
With just a handful of Fort Hood soldiers meeting the qualifications, the local AUSA sponsored the trip for several additional troops, while others paid their way.
Crutchfield said the chapter is now focused on gaining more corporate members to further the organization’s mission of being a voice for the Army and support for the soldier on Capitol Hill and locally.
Also from Fort Hood, the 1st Cavalry Division was named the largest active Army division within AUSA.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Ron Taylor, Texas AUSA president and senior vice president of Fort Hood National Bank, received the organization’s top honor for a retired noncommissioned officer: The Sergeant Major of the Army William G. Bainbridge Noncommissioned Officer Medal for extraordinary service. Active within AUSA for 14 years and a past Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter president, Taylor said he’d wear his medal with pride.
“I really do love taking care of soldiers,” said Taylor.
Virgil Teter, vice president of news at KWTX in Waco, was one of two recipients of the Major General Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Medal, for his contributions to AUSA.
Honors were presented during the annual meeting’s opening ceremony at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. In his keynote address, Secretary of the Army John McHugh said that after 11 years at war and in the current economy, “the Army must do more with less.”
While the prospect “keeps (him) up at night,” McHugh said the Army was up to the challenge and had been given time to “plan and get it right.”
While it’s still unclear exactly how the Army will restructure in the face of $490 billion in defense budget cuts and downsizing spanning the next decade, McHugh announced Monday a “total force” directive that seeks to achieve parity in training, readiness and benefits between active-duty and reserve forces. The Army will continue to reduce the size of its bureaucracy without losing focus of the people who are its essence, he added.