How will the reduction of about 3,300 troops from Fort Hood impact Killeen?

A study costing nearly $150,000 will attempt to answer that question.

According to a city memorandum, the study will provide information on how the proposed reduction of 3,300 troops would affect retail, housing, education, employment, small businesses and defense suppliers in Killeen, according to recent reports in the Killeen Daily Herald. City staff recommended that retired Brig. Gen. Rick Gibbs perform the assessment for $148,400. The Defense Department’s Office of Economic Adjustment will reimburse the city, but the council also must approve a grant application to receive the funding.

No offense to the retired general or anyone else involved in the study, but I think I can answer the core question right now: It’s going to hurt the Killeen economy a little bit.

The troop reductions are part of an Army plan announced earlier this year that will reduce the Army’s troop strength from 490,000 soldiers to 450,000 by the end of 2017.

It’s a gradual reduction, which means we’re not going to see any overnight cuts coming out of Fort Hood.

Killeen’s economy is fueled, in large part, by what goes on at Fort Hood. Anyone here during Desert Storm remembers when both divisions headquartered at the post at that time — 1st Cavalry and 2nd Armored — deployed. It was like a ghost town. Restaurants and other businesses suffered, and some never recovered. The planned reduction of 3,300 troops will be like a drop in the bucket compared to that. But here’s the rub. If Congress wises up, and funds the Army as it should, there won’t be any reduction.

The reason Army leaders are shrinking the Army to 450,000 is due to lack of funding, or perhaps more accurately, the ambiguity of future funding. Who knows if the military will receive proper funding in the years ahead?

Fort Hood now has about 39,000 troops, and 5,000 or more could be deployed anytime. Reducing the number by a few more shouldn’t have a big impact on the Killeen economy, which grows every year, thanks to the many veterans who retire here.

Contact Jacob Brooks jbrooks@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468

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