• October 30, 2014

Defense alliance talks funding at Fort Hood

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Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013 4:30 am

COPPERAS COVE — The Heart of Texas Defense Alliance educated the Cove Economic Development Corporation on Thursday about funding, sequestration and other issues involving the Army.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the Army’s future budget because of Senate debates on the National Defense Authorization Act, the unknown status of the federal appropriation bill and other political issues, said retired Col. Bill Parry, with the alliance.

While the Army figures out how to handle sequestration, it cannot cut military personnel costs, Parry said. It is reducing its end strength to 490,000 troops in the next few years.

“Fort Hood cannot grow unless some other installation closes,” Parry said, noting people shouldn’t expect troop levels to increase.

While some have called for another round of base realignment and closure, Parry said Congress has no plans for one. Realignment could mean Fort Hood loses soldiers, but the base wouldn’t close, Parry said.

“If there were only two installations left, Fort Hood would be one of them,” he said.

Parry warned that now was the time to ensure schools are educating military students, and services outside the Army post are contributing to the well-being of soldiers.

Those issues would pay a big factor in a base realignment.

“We (Central Texas and Fort Hood) have to be completely joined at the hip,” Parry said.

To implement sequestration, there likely will be more civilian cuts and furloughs, he said.

“I see an option in significant civilian cuts,” Parry said.

Since Fort Hood is the area’s largest economic engine, Polo Enriquez, the Cove EDC executive director, said it was better to have the information despite its uncertainty.

“The more we know, even the uncertainty, the better decisions we and even the city can make.”

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