Let’s get one thing straight: A BRAC is coming. No one has officially approved another round of base realignment and closure, but I can see the writing on the wall.
First off, the military wants it. The Defense Department requested two BRAC rounds in 2015 and 2017 in fiscal year 2013, but Congress would not allow it at that time.
Earlier this year, military leaders asked again for a BRAC. Again, it was denied. In September, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno testified before the House Armed Services Committee that without a BRAC, the Army’s limited budget would be wasted on supporting excess facilities.
Secondly, and for multiple reasons, the military is getting smaller. The Army is in the process of cutting the number of soldiers from 570,000 to 490,000 over the next few years. Add in sequestration and “wild cards” from Congress, and that number is likely to drop even more.
To many, a BRAC just makes sense: Our military is getting smaller, so let’s see how we can reorganize our military bases to best serve that force in an efficient and effective manner.
Local officials are on board, too. The Killeen-based Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, which offers military analyses and advice to city governments, is behind the idea of another BRAC. So is Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin.
And while a BRAC can, and will, become a huge political issue, Congress will likely approve a new BRAC process in the near future.
Local proponents of a BRAC say Fort Hood will do well. They point to recent road projects and ongoing construction of major facilities, such as the Army hospital going up at Fort Hood.
True, the current and soon-to-be-built infrastructure on post can handle an even bigger troop load. However, when the BRAC comes, every community from Florida to Alaska will be fighting tooth and nail to keep what they’ve got. It won’t be pretty. And no one really knows what a BRAC will look like until the process is complete.
Still, proponents stand confident Fort Hood will do well. It’s almost as if Fort Hood is too big to fail.
However, when a new BRAC is approved, the steps need to be done cautiously and carefully. A smaller Fort Hood can bring devastating economic impacts to the Killeen area.
After all, the country’s economic crisis of the past few years taught us the term “too big to fail” doesn’t really work.