Texas Army Bases Being Realigned

8-24-05 - The commission considering military base closures voted Wednesday to realign the Red River Army Depot in East Texas instead of closing it as recommended by the Pentagon.

The Base Closure and Realignment Commission decided to move parts of the depot's mission elsewhere, but to retain work on Humvees and Bradley Fighting Vehicles in Texarkana.

Red River workers are largely responsible for repairing Humvees, Bradleys, Patriot and Hawk missiles. The depot also makes rubber pads for inserted in treads for armored vehicles. The Pentagon had proposed closing Red River and sending its functions and missions to other depots in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

The vote came on the first day of deliberations on a sweeping Pentagon plan to close or realign 62 large bases and hundreds of smaller ones to modernize U.S. forces. The commission's recommendations will go to President Bush for approval by Sept. 8.

Had the depot closed, it would have shut down the Texarkana area's largest employer.

More than 2,600 civilians and 600 contractors work at the depot. An 1,200 additional workers make up part of a complex that includes Lone Star Ammunition Plant, which the Pentagon also proposed for closing.

Under the realignment plan approved Wednesday, about 200 jobs will be lost.

Local officials had disputed Pentagon estimates of costs savings from closing the depot. They also argued that other depots proposed to receive parts of the depot's mission would need additional construction to accommodate the work.

The Base Closure and Realignment commission also approved a Pentagon proposal Wednesday to move a 4th Infantry Division combat brigade and headquarters team from Fort Hood to Colorado.

The troop loss was anticipated as part of a Pentagon plan to shuffle its brigade combat organization.

The vote was among the first made during what's expected to be at least three days of deliberations on a sweeping Pentagon plan to close or realign 62 large bases and hundreds of smaller ones to modernize U.S. military forces.

The 4th Infantry was headquartered at Fort Carson from 1970 until 1996.

Even with the change, Fort Hood in Killeen will still have five combat teams. It's expected to have a troop strength of about 41,000.

The Pentagon contended Fort Hood did not have enough facilities and land to support six heavy brigades and other units stationed there.

But Texas officials argued the Defense Department overlooked more than 37,000 acres of newly available land and did not completely calculate the cost of training at Fort Carson.

Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, who worked to keep Fort Hood's full training capacity, said he was deeply disappointed with the commissioners vote.

"We exhausted all avenues available to express to the Commission that the DoD recommendations were not justified and require the reckless spending of tax payer money," Carter said in a statement.

The commission also okayed moving the air defense artillery units at Fort Bliss in El Paso to Fort Sill, Okla. and relocating the 1st Armored Division and other units from Germany and Korea to Fort Bliss.