It still seems a little weird to me, but in my new role as the Killeen Daily Herald military editor, I’ve found that I call the Pentagon increasingly often.
Right or wrong, my vision of the Pentagon in the past has been quite Hollywood.
I think of movies where there is some important official, usually the president of the United States or another character, and he says: “Get me the Pentagon on the line.”
From there, some military strike is ordered on an unlucky, but usually deserving, target.
The drama is not quite as intense when I get the Pentagon on the line. Usually, I call a media representative who works for the Department of the Army at the five-sided building. And, typically, I’m just calling for some statistics or information that I need to pad an article I’m working on.
A couple of weeks ago, I called the Pentagon to find out the current number of active-duty soldiers in the Army. They told me its about 495,000, which puts the Army on track to get down to 490,000 active-duty soldiers by the beginning of fiscal year 2016 — all part of the Army’s drawdown plan.
And last week, I called the Pentagon to ask which brigade will be replacing the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which is on its way to South Korea for a nine-month rotation.
The Pentagon told me the brigade’s replacement will be announced in July.
Every once in a while I’ll get the runaround game when I call Army officials at the Pentagon: “Oh, you need to call Fort Hood to get that info” or “Oh, you need to call the Department of Defense to get that info” ... and that usually comes after I’ve already called those other agencies.
Also, I’ve found that the Pentagon, at least the folks who answer questions from the media, are not very good about answering their phones. Sometimes, I’ll leave messages for days and still never get a call back.
That’s not very Hollywood-like.
Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the Fort Hood Herald editor and military editor of the Killeen Daily Herald. He was stationed at Fort Hood and served with the 1st Cavalry Division from 1993 to 1996. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7468.