By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
Former III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general Pete Taylor came out of retirement Friday to brief the Rotary Club of Killeen-Heights on how Defense Department budget cuts could affect Fort Hood.
Taylor said that much of the information in his briefing at the Shilo Inn came from public records and he doubted whether anyone knew yet exactly how Fort Hood will be impacted by $450 billion in defense budget cuts over 10 years.
But, he said, Fort Hood "will remain an enduring installation."
Fort Hood proved to be an exceptional place to train during his tenure in the early 1990s, said the retired lieutenant general, and has proven itself to be "a great place to deploy from" since 2001.
Currently, he said, the Army has announced it will cut eight combat bridge teams, and the two that have already been named are in Europe. Despite the announced force reduction of 80,000 soldiers over the next six years, Fort Hood's levels remain above 2001 levels.
Taylor, who retired in 1993 from his post at Fort Hood, served four years as chairman of the Texas Strategic Military Planning Commission and is chairman of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, a three-county Central Texas defense advocacy group. He is also the founding chairman of the Military Child Education Coalition in Harker Heights.
What does worry Taylor, however, is the possibility of sequestration - arbitrary cutting of the defense budget by an additional $600 billion in January 2013 if Congress fails to balance the budget.
It's something the community should watch, he said.
Retired Col. Bill Parry, executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, said the purpose of the brief he helped prepare was to provide club members a factual framework for an objective discussion about reductions in defense spending.
Club member Jose Segarra, owner of Exit Homevets Realty in Killeen and spokesperson for the Fort Hood Area Association of Realtors, said he felt confident in the area's ability to sustain itself, whatever happens.
"We don't know what's going to happen, but we're optimistic," he said. "We've gotten other (industries) over the last few years, including the (Texas A&M University-Central Texas) and (Seton Medical Center Harker Heights). It's good that we're not caught unprepared in case something does happen."
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHFortHood.