By Debbie Stevenson
Killeen Daily Herald
Fort Hoods proud civilian communities have long claimed to be the neighbors of the Armys biggest installation.
Recently that claim was called into question by a Fort Hood spokesman who took issue with a statement in a recent Herald story.
AUSA is the voice for the Army. It would be unconscionable for the city next to the largest post not to come out and support it, said Killeen Mayor Maureen Jouett about the recent annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army in Washington.
That claim is not correct, the gentleman wrote in an e-mail last week to the Herald.
Or is it?
Jouett is not alone in her belief, and facts printed in this weeks Army Times and on military Web sites, appear to support the claim that Fort Hood is indeed the biggest of them all.
Its been that for a very long time, said Gerald Skidmore, who has lived in the area for 50 years and is the assistant to the president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce.
As far as I know, it had never been challenged before, Skidmore said. I think its always been obvious that were not the largest in land; weve always known that Fort Bliss and Fort Irwin had more land. But Ive never had anybody challenge us on the number of troops and family members, so I have always been comfortable with the fact that we are the largest Army installation.
Dave Hall, a former Fort Hood garrison commander, said it is difficult for some to comprehend the posts sheer size in infrastructure, noting the post has more than 10,000 occupied buildings.
On a given day, we may not be the largest in people, because someone may have more people than we do. On a given day, we may not be the largest in land mass, Hall said. But consistently, when you take people, land mass, infrastructure and equipment, Fort Hood is the biggest and baddest of them all and no one ever corrected me at garrison commanders conferences or anywhere else.
When the post began as Camp Hood during World War II, its 108,000-acre area made it the undisputed largest single military installation in the country for the time.
Today, Fort Hood is the only Army installation to house two maneuver divisions, currently the 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division. Fort Hood also is home to III Corps, the Armys Operational Test Command, 13th Corps Support Command and other tenant brigades. It has grown to 340 square miles, of which 136,600 acres are devoted to maneuver areas. At the last official count, the post had 18.3 million square feet of buildings, according to figures by the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance that were confirmed Friday by a Fort Hood official.
When it comes to land mass, Fort Hoods 212,500 acres is dwarfed by Fort Bliss near El Paso, which is the Army Training and Doctrine Commands largest installation at 1.1 million acres, and the second largest in the Army. The White Sands Missile Range next to Fort Bliss is the largest. Fort Bliss also claims the Armys largest maneuver area at 550 square miles, three times the size of the 642,000 acres at National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
Fort Lewis, Wash., also tops Fort Hood in land. The installation proper contains 86,000 acres and its Yakima Training Center spans 324,000 acres. Even Fort Stewart, Ga., edges Fort Hood with 280,000 acres.
However, none of the four comes close to Fort Hoods military population.
The Army Times reports that Fort Hood now has 45,000 active-duty members with 115,000 family members living in 6,089 housing units. It also employs 6,000 civilians.
Local officials begin Fort Hoods active-duty count at 42,000. The number is growing to 47,000 with the addition of 5,000 troops filling the 4th Infantrys two new brigades by February.
Fort Hoods rival in personnel, Fort Bragg, N.C., is home to the 18th Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and Army Special Forces Command.
According to the Times tally, the post next to Fayetteville, N.C., has 46,826 active-duty military and employs 8,692 civilians. Family member numbers were not included in the Army Times report, which listed only 4,728 onpost family housing units and 250 leased homes in Hoke County.
We used to say that Fort Bliss was larger in acreage and Fort Bragg had more people, so that made Fort Hood the largest armored post in the world, said Eloise Lundgren, Fort Hoods community relations officer. We would qualify it with that.
On its home page, the Fort Bragg command makes a similar qualification, stating it is the worlds largest airborne facility with over 45,000 military personnel. The command puts the number of on-post family members at 11,450. It also states there are 93,072 Army retirees and family members living across North Carolina.
Fort Braggs total acreage is 160,770 acres with 92,000 used for training, the command states.
Really, theyre all large. Theyre huge by both land and personnel, Lundgren said. But with the new statistics, it looks like it may put Fort Hood in the lead, slightly.
When you add up the numbers, Fort Hood area can continue its claim, Skidmore said.
We have enough. Fort Hood is a post thats really doesnt have to have any claims that are not true, Skidmore said. Its good enough to hold its own anytime.
Contact Debbie Stevenson at firstname.lastname@example.org