Army will restore brigade and save battalion on Fort Hood

FORT HOOD — The U.S. Army announced Thursday how it would use several thousand extra troops added by Congress under the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act supported by President Donald Trump. And, the announcement includes changes at Fort Hood.

The troop increase is a reversal from President Barack Obama’s administration, which instructed the Army to decrease the number of soldiers to 980,000 by the end of fiscal year 2018.

Under the new plan, the Army has been instructed to maintain an end strength of 1.018 million soldiers — broken up into 476,000 regular Army soldiers, 343,000 Army National Guard members, and 199,000 soldiers in the Army reserve.

The change means the Army has been authorized to return the Aviation Training Brigade to Fort Hood under First Army Division West. And, the base’s 206th Military Intelligence Battalion — which was scheduled to be deactivated — will remain in Central Texas.

“This a tremendous force multiplier for our organization, but moreover for our Army, increasing our end strength by approximately 137 Soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, commander of First Army Division West. “As U.S. Forces Command’s executive agent for implementation of Army Total Force Policy, the re-activation of the 166th Aviation Brigade greatly enhances First Army’s capability to achieve the Army’s #1 priority of readiness.”

All the gains laid out by the Army will take several years to achieve full operational capability. But, Army officials said they would begin to reduce the capabilities gap against “near-peer, high-end adversaries” in addition to helping modernize the Army and making it more ready for combat situations.

“This is a win for the Army and the nation,” said Col. Laura Knapp, commander of the III Corps’ 504th Military Intelligence Brigade. “Retaining the 206th Military Intelligence Battalion significantly contributes to Fort Hood’s capabilities as a power projection platform.”