The five-day Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition kicks off in Washington, D.C., today with many Fort Hood and Central Texas residents attending.
“It’s the largest processional forum that the Army has each year,” said Ron Taylor, state president for AUSA, and senior vice president of Fort Hood National Bank. “It’s the only time the U.S. Army really celebrates itself.”
The AUSA Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter will take 30 soldiers and more than 100 local community leaders to participate in events, including awards presentations, meetings with Congress, discussion panels, professional development forums and an exhibition of the latest tools of the trade.
“We’re honored to be able to go up and take the Fort Hood story up to Washington, D.C., and ask all the questions,” Taylor said.
The biggest question on people’s minds, he said, is what sequestration will mean for Fort Hood.
Sequestration is the term lawmakers use to describe the process of withholding money from federal programs. President Barack Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011, which created a Joint Select Committee, nicknamed the supercommittee, made up of House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, and charged them with finding $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. The committee failed to come to an agreement on the cuts, thus triggering the sequestration, which is set to begin Jan. 1, if lawmakers cannot find some kind of resolution.
The sequestration triggers $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts over the next 10 years, half of which will come from defense and half from domestic programs.
“It’s a big word and it means a lot for our military right now. ... How will that affect Central Texas and Fort Hood? We think Fort Hood’s going to be fine,” Taylor said. “We’ll continue to be strong and we’ll continue to be viable within the military community there.”
Taylor also is going to receive the Sgt. Maj. of the Army William G. Bainbridge Noncommissioned Officer Medal, named for the fifth soldier to hold this position. It is presented to an NCO — active, reserve component or retired — whose contributions to the NCO Corps and the local community have been significant.
“I am extremely honored that they chose to recognize me,” said Taylor, a retired command sergeant major who has been a member of AUSA since 1977.
On Sunday, Fort Hood runners will be competing in the Army Ten-Miler, an open-to-the-public race predominately comprised of military members.
Two dozen soldiers will be racing on the official Fort Hood team to compete for the Commander’s Cup and nine spouses will run for fun.
“The neat thing is being able to see so many units and posts there,” said Lori Brooks, a military spouse running the race for the fourth time. “It’s fun to run into people you haven’t seen in several years.”
While the spouses run for fun, the soldiers are looking for a win, something that has eluded them since 2007.
“Having been involved with this race for the last 20 years plus ... this is probably, in terms of depth, the most competitive folks we have spread across four teams, I’ve never seen any post provide that much depth in my years of involvement with the race,” said Col. Neil Hersey, Fort Hood team captain and commander of the 21st Cavalry Brigade. “We’ve got some pretty swift old guys and some pretty swift young folks, as well.”
The Herald’s Washington Correspondent Colleen Flaherty will provide daily coverage of the AUSA conference beginning Monday.