More than 100 Central Texans are participating in the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, which kicked off today in Washington, D.C.
This year’s meeting is themed, “Globally Responsive, Regionally Engaged,” and will feature many past Fort Hood leaders, including Gen. Raymond Odierno, Army chief of staff; Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commander of Forces Command, and Gen. Robert Cone, commander of Training and Doctrine Command.
Retired Col. Bill Parry, spokesman for the Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter of AUSA, said he expects to hear some straight talk about the health of the Army.
“Being a nonelection year ... I think the secretary of the Army and the chief of staff will be very frank with people as far as, ‘Here’s the level of pain we’re looking at, guys,’” said Parry, who also serves as the executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance.
He said he anticipates Odierno will speak along the lines of his Sept. 18 congressional hearing statement, which outlined three big issues: compensation reform, the civilian workforce and base realignment and closure, better known as BRAC.
“These are three things consuming the Army,” Parry said. “I think the Army would like help conveying the message.”
Aside from some of Fort Hood’s top leaders and award-winning soldiers attending the conference, community representatives from Copperas Cove to Temple are attending — many hope to share their concerns with Army and political leaders.
“The really big things for me are Wednesday, when we will be meeting with Sen. (John) Cornyn and Sen. (Ted) Cruz in their offices,” said Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin, who will attend the conference with four other city officials.
“We have a list of legislative concerns and we want to push those. One of the things on my list is to have another round of BRAC. ... Especially if the Army continues to downsize as it has after every other war. It would benefit us.”
Copperas Cove also will be sending three people, including Andrea Gardner, city manager. Cove’s Economic Development Corporation will send two people.
One issue Gardner said Cove will focus on is the Department of the Army Fair Market Value Policy. Waivers and easements are allowed but can take years and have slowed many local projects such as sewer lines.
“There are also several water issues we have on our legislative agenda,” she said.
The local AUSA chapter will receive multiple awards on Monday, including Best Chapter Overall, Largest Overall Membership and Best Chapter Newsletter. The conference ends Wednesday.
Access AUSA meeting online
This year the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition will be available to watch online at www.army.mil/professional. This is the first year nearly every panel will be live-streamed. Online viewers can ask questions through social media.