Killeen’s mayor and five City Council members are back from a trip to Washington, D.C., where last week they lobbied for issues important to the city at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army.
“I believe that historically the contingency from the city is to go to the AUSA conference,” Mayor Dan Corbin said Monday.
“I think it sends a strong message for the Fort Hood military community that we care.”
Throughout the two days of workshops, luncheons and meetings with the Army’s upper echelon of generals and commanders, Killeen was often referred to as “that great place” by some of the nation’s top commanders, the mayor said.
Corbin, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lower, Council members Terry Clark, Jared Foster, Wayne Gilmore and Elizabeth Blackstone, were chosen to attend the conference during City Council meetings in August.
The elected officials brought a list of regional and municipal concerns to the conference, including a potential Base Realignment and Closure or BRAC, the Communinty Oriented Police Services or COPS grant and sequestration, but returned with few definite answers.
The mayor said he thought sequestration — the $500 billion in automatic defense budget cuts that could be enacted Jan. 1 if Congress does not adopt a budget — will not happen.
“It seems to me if the president will not veto the legislation that Congress writes, they will keep kicking the can down the road,” Corbin said.
On Sunday night, the night before the two-day conference began, the mayor and the five city council members dined at the home of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, a former III Corps and Fort Hood commander.
For council members, like Blackstone, who did not serve in the military, the conference served as an opportunity to become better acquainted with the complex world of the Army.
“I was interested in seeing all of the tactical weapons and things. This was something I hadn’t seen,” Blackstone said.
Blackstone said she felt the council’s presence had made a positive impact on the Army community.
“We hope we made a bit of an impression,” Blackstone said.
With 10,000 members, the Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter was officially named the largest AUSA chapter out of a total of 120 chapters during the event.
Local AUSA public relations chairperson and Heart of Texas Defense Alliance executive director Bill Parry described the conference as an “opportunity for people in the community to hear first hand from the leadership in the Army about the path the Army is going to take.”
Officials from five local cities, including Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove, Temple and Belton, traveled to the Washington Convention Center to represent the AUSA Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter at the conference.
“When you are the largest, you tend to have a little more influence,” Parry said