Bell County will receive a $3.1 million grant for security improvements at Robert Gray Army Airfield and Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.
The grant is part of a $20 million allocation under the state’s Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant program. The program, administered by the Texas Military Preparedness Commission, assists defense communities that may be impacted by a future Base Realignment and Closure round.
Keith Sledd, director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, said the county will use the grant to install digital surveillance around the airfield and airport.
“Right now, there are soldiers who provide this security function. This will alleviate them from having to do some of that,” Sledd said. “It will return 5,500 combat training days to Fort Hood.”
Sledd said the facility houses $1.3 billion of aircraft and another $691 million in airfield infrastructure. Annually, the airfield supports more than 10,000 military aircraft movements and more than 7,800 commercial flights.
Sledd said the new security equipment is expected to save Fort Hood about $1 million annually in operations costs.
“The strength of our military communities in Texas is unparalleled in part because of state support like the DEAAG program,” Abbott said in a release. “Not only are the 15 major military installations in Texas critical for the defense of our nation, they also add $136.6 billion to the state’s economy and support, directly and indirectly, more than 800,000 jobs in communities across this great state. That is why I will continue to work with the Texas Legislature and TMPC to ensure that our military installations continue to add unmatched value.”
The total cost for the Bell County project is about $4.7 million.
Bell County, which sponsored the grant application, will fund 25 percent of the remaining cost with participation from the cities of Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, Gatesville, Harker Heights and Killeen.
“It is a major thing for Fort Hood and we are pleased to have been the grant sponsor and a participant in the local funding on this,” Bell County Judge Jon Burrows said. “It’s a good thing for the Killeen airport and a good thing for Bell County.”
Sledd said the grant was made possible by support from elected officials such as U.S. Reps. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and Roger Williams, R-Austin; state Reps. Hugh Shine, R-Temple, and Scott Cosper, R-Killeen; and state Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway.
Cosper, who represents Texas House District 54, said Wednesday that the grant is a worthwhile investment.
“This funding has been a top priority of my office since I was first elected,” Cosper said in a news release. “I am excited that TMPC has recognized the outstanding military value of this investment in the Fort Hood community.”