When Army representatives visit Killeen on Monday, the focus of their presentation will be to explain the decision-making process behind force restructuring.
“They are going to go through the process and describe what all the factors are,” said Lt. Col. Peggy Kageleiry, spokesperson for Army operations, intelligence and logistics.
During the two-hour meeting at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, Col. Charles Walters, with the Army’s Force Management; Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, 1st Cavalry Division commander; and Bill Parry, executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, will provide information and ask for community input.
By 2017, the Army must reduce the number of soldiers by 80,000 — from 570,000 to 490,000, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. This is part of a force drawdown, not sequestration.
The “listening” sessions — going on at military communities around the nation this month — also are unrelated to Base Realignment and Closure, according to Army officials.
“We don’t know what the decisions are going to be, but when you have to reduce that kind of number, it does reduce everything,” Kageleiry said. “Everybody is going to be hit with something.”
Army decision makers will consider training areas and resources, deployment infrastructure, quality-of-life facilities and other components important to Army installations.
“We’ve got all these widgets to work through to make sure we make the right decision and a carefully considered decision,” Kageleiry said.
Fort Hood meets many of these considerations. In the last round of military construction funding in January, Fort Hood received $28 million to build a new training aids center and a firing range. Another $22 million was designated to build infrastructure for new unmanned aviation companies. There is also the $500 million medical center, currently under construction. When it opens at Fort Hood in 2015, it will be 60 percent larger than the previous facility.
Outside the gates, highway construction projects are underway to improve the flow to and from the post.
In January, the Army released the Programmatic Environmental Assessment, which evaluates and assesses the environmental impacts of potential adjustments to Army forces at 21 installations. Fort Hood was one of the installations evaluated.
The report stated the military 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. Fort Hood’s current assigned troop strength is 42,542.
No single Army post would lose more than 8,000 troops and military civilians, according to the report.
“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.
Army representatives will visit 30 installations this month, all of which have more than 5,000 soldiers, Kageleiry said.
“The Army remains a soldier-centric force and we intend to preserve a quality of life for soldiers and families, while sustaining relationships with surrounding communities,” she said.
It will be at least May before the Army releases any information on its decisions.
Jean Shine, local Realtor and civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, said it’s important the community show up Monday night to show its support for Fort Hood. She said representatives from the surrounding communities, school districts and business organizations are planning to attend.
“It’s not BRAC, but with every issue, it’s important that we put our best foot forward for the community and (show) the importance of keeping the military strong here at Fort Hood,” she said. “We love our military and I think they know that, but it’s always good to show our support and tell the story of what we do for them.”
Monday’s meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public.