By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - The Fort Hood garrison commander briefed members of the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce about current happenings on post and a coming decrease in the post's population Thursday at a Governmental Affairs Committee luncheon.
"I am on a traveling road show to tell the communities about what is going on at Fort Hood," Col. Mark Freitag said.
Fort Hood aims to strengthen ties with its surrounding communities, he said.
More than 20 brigades are stationed at Fort Hood with several deployed, Freitag said. That means Fort Hood currently has a post population of about 89,000 with a little less than half of that being civilians, contractors and family members. There are roughly 48,000 soldier assignments on post.
But what the community will experience over the course of the next six to eight months is a lot more brigades deploying, he said.
"The population at Fort Hood is going to go down for about a year," he said.
Chamber member Jim Wright asked Freitag how many soldiers will remain on post after the deployments.
Estimates show about 25,000 soldiers remaining stationed here during that year, Freitag said.
Another factor contributing to the decline in soldiers will be the redeployment of the 4th Aviation Combat Brigade to Fort Bliss. It will, however, be replaced with a smaller division that will make the total soldier assignments at Fort Hood roughly about 46,000 before the deployments.
Freitag also discussed numerous projects and programs occurring on post.
The All Army Combatives Tournament is scheduled to come to Fort Hood in May, he said. Also in May, a simulated plane crash, which will include emergency response teams from across Central Texas, will take place at the Robert Gray Army Airport.
Freitag said other projects under way at Fort Hood include:
Construction on at least eight child development centers and one youth center
Additions to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center
Creation of two Marine Reserve Units stationed at Hood Army Air Field
Construction of the new Fort Hood Stadium, which may have a joint-use agreement with Killeen Independent School District
Creation of the North Fort Hood Mobilization Training Center
Building the Air Assault Training tower and the Confidence Training Course.
"A lot the things going on at Fort Hood are trend-setting," Freitag said. "What happens in the Army starts at Fort Hood."
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.