The last time the United States considered a drawdown of military forces and infrastructure, the entire Heartland region of Kentucky dodged a bullet. We looked down the barrel of the Base Realignment and Closure and realized that Fort Knox represents a significant impact to our regional economy—not to mention an ongoing contributor of energy and vitality in the form of soldiers and civilian employees and their families. We also determined to advocate on behalf of Fort Knox. When I first arrived at the State Capitol, I was concerned to realize that BRAC was understood by very few in the Legislature or state government in general—in spite of the impact Fort Knox has to our entire region and the Commonwealth as a whole. I quickly recruited legislative partners from throughout the Heartland region. Together, we became outspoken advocates for state investments that would demonstrate Kentucky’s commitment to the Army in general and Fort Knox in particular. Thankfully, that message resonated throughout the Legislature and the Executive branch (and across administrations). Kentucky ponied up real dollars to the tune of several hundred million dollars to support BRAC changes on and around Fort Knox. Those investments have assisted in BRAC-related transition across a multi-county area. Although we would have preferred to maintain Fort Knox as the “Home of Armor”, we have benefitted greatly from the acquisition of Human Resources Command, Recruiting Command, the Army’s LDAC program, and several other tenant organizations and missions. Obviously, the coalition to promote Fort Knox within Kentucky and Kentucky throughout the Army was much broader than just State government. Local organizations such as One Knox and the CORE Committee—as well as county and local officials throughout the Heartland—played a key role in advocating for maintaining and growing the military significance of Fort Knox. Their efforts continue to this day. Now, the Army is in the midst of another force restructuring. Studies and analyses are ongoing to determine how and where to reduce manpower and save dollars. I will not address the political and strategic considerations or the shortsightedness of some of these trends in this column. Instead, I simply want to encourage everyone in the Grayson and Hardin County community to pull together once again to tell our story and express our commitment to Fort Knox. On June 26, the US Army Environmental Command announced potential cuts that would reduce personnel at Fort Knox by 4,100 folks (military and civilian) over the next 5 years. That would result in a net loss of 9,650 jobs throughout our community and a $431 million loss to our regional economy. The Army also invited concerned citizens to respond to this proposal by August 25th. Anyone can write a letter, send an e-mail, or sign a pre-written letter discouraging further cuts at Fort Knox. Please take the time to join us in expressing our appreciation for Fort Knox and the men and women who are stationed there as they serve our nation. You can visit the One Knox website at www.oneknox.com/letter and digitally sign a form letter that will be automatically forwarded to the U.S. Army Environmental Command. Or, you can write a letter and mail it to: U.S. Army Environmental Command ATTN: SPEA Public Comments 2450 Connell Road (Building 2264) Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664
Finally, you can send an E-mail letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Over the years, Fort Knox has been an integral part of our region and Kentucky as a whole. Its economic impact is tremendous. Please take the time to help express our support for Fort Knox and our opposition to further cuts. As Kentuckians, we must stand united in this effort.