Fort Hood’s soldier population in 2020 could dip below 40,000 or increase beyond 50,000, depending on which realignment plan is approved by the Army, according to a recent environmental study that calculates population changes in the wake of forthcoming military cuts.
The report stated the population could be 39,437 if a plan to lower the number of Army brigades is approved. If the “Alternate 2” portion of the plan is approved, however, Fort Hood’s military population could swell to 50,437.
The 78-page Army report is an assessment on impacts to the environment and other topics if changes in the Army take place.
“The Army’s active-duty end-strength will decline from a FY 2012 authorized end-strength of 562,000 to 490,000, and will include a reduction of at least eight brigade combat teams from the current total of 45,” according to the report, which evaluated a total potential population loss of about 126,000 soldiers and Army civilians.
No single Army post would lose more than 8,000 troops and military civilians, according to the report, which listed 21 installations that could see losses. The report listed Fort Hood’s fiscal year 2011 population as 47,437. The only post with a higher population was Fort Bragg, N.C., which had a population of 56,983 in fiscal 2011, and a potential 2020 population of 48,983.
“It is important to understand that these scenarios represent the maximum potential reduction at these installations and are not currently being proposed by the Army,” the report stated.
The changes in the report reflect possible realignment and inactivation of brigade combat teams — at least one from each post that currently has multiple brigades. Right now, Fort Hood has five brigade combat teams: four within the 1st Cavalry Division and one Stryker brigade in the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
While there has been no announcement concerning Fort Hood brigades, the Army has announced the inactivation of the 170th and 172nd Brigade Combat Teams from Germany, according to a report in Army Times.
If Alternative 2 is approved, even more brigades would be inactivated, but the remaining brigades would increase in size, potentially adding another battalion.
In this restructuring scenario, Fort Hood would actually gain 3,000 more troops than the fiscal 2011 population.
More than likely, that’s how things will play out, said Bill Parry, a retired Fort Hood colonel and executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, a nonprofit that provides analytical reports on Fort Hood and other defense issues to cities in Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties.
“The commanders who have fought the last 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan would like to see some restructuring,” Parry said, adding Alternative 2 addresses potential restructuring but the other portion of the plan does not.
Either way, Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said the city is planning to move forward.
“I think those numbers are fairly consistent with what we expect,” Corbin said, adding he foresees Killeen’s population to grow as local colleges get bigger and area highways are improved.
When wars end, the military typically shrinks, the mayor said.
“That’s to be expected.”