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Adjusting to new realities and future opportunities

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Editorial: June 9, 2013

ISSUE: Commission on Military Affairs and CORE
OUR VIEW: Working together for positive growth

The operations of Fort Knox and the U.S. Army’s influence on the local economy are unquestioned. Two organizations involved in keeping that economic engine of central Kentucky strong are the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs and our local CORE Committee.

CORE and KCMA have a long history of working together for the good of our area and both have served us well. But the next 10 years may well be more critical than the last 10 years.

CORE. Perhaps no organization in our area has been more successful in helping to maintain a robust capability at Fort Knox than the CORE Committee.

Originally named the Committee for Retaining Employees, it was established in 1991 by forward looking local business leaders. Over time, the name has become simply the CORE Committee.  

CORE’s purpose is “To protect present missions at Fort Knox, and to secure future missions and units at Fort Knox.” 

Committee members maintain a direct line of communication to members of the Kentucky Congressional delegation and Kentucky’s General Assembly with the purpose of keeping them informed as to the role and needs of Fort Knox in meeting both present and future requirements of the Army and the Department of Defense. 

Today, CORE works hand in hand with the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs to educate state and national leaders about the positive aspects of Fort Knox and the great relationship that exists between the installation and the local communities. 

CORE membership consists of local elected officials such as mayors and judge-executives, local retired senior Army leaders and community business leaders. It is representative of the regional community surrounding Fort Knox. 

There have been several recent additions to the committee, expanding representation. Bullitt County, Greater Louisville Inc., Hardin Memorial Health and additional local businesses have been added to the effort. 

Jim Fugitte is the new president, replacing Bill Rissel, who superbly led the committee’s efforts for several years. We believe this growth and change of CORE’s vision will bring even greater benefits and we applaud their efforts.  

Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs. The Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs also recently underwent changes in personnel and focus.  

The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure efforts caused the commission to focus energy on executing the Department of Defense’s decision to move the Armor School to Fort Benning, Ga., and bring several organizations here. Since 2006, state funding for BRAC-related infrastructure requirements has resulted in more than $250 million of state funds programmed and spent in our area to improve and upgrade roads, sewers and other necessary projects to accommodate the influx of families and to entice additional growth at Fort Knox. By every account, the commission has been very successful. 

Today, KCMA also is under new leadership. It is no longer primarily focused on BRAC planning or execution, but has returned to its original charter of helping to create new businesses and economic development opportunities in Kentucky, using our military installations as catalysts.

In this regard, the commission recently formed a Committee on Business Development. The intent is to leverage our military installations to encourage private sector and defense industry growth throughout our region and the Commonwealth.  

Several defense-related markets have significant potential for our area. Examples include the Unmanned Aerial System industry as well as Cyber Security. The committee will identify and assess companies that desire to relocate to Kentucky. Additionally, the KCMA will identify those defense-related companies that we want to invite to Kentucky, based on our local business environment and strategic direction.

It almost is certain there will be another BRAC in the future and we must prepare now if we are to be successful. Our area was clearly a winner during the last BRAC. And while most would suggest Fort Knox is not at risk of closing in future BRAC efforts, loss of missions and personnel is entirely possible. 

We must work to keep current missions here, but the key to the future of Fort Knox is growth of new missions. We see an opportunity to encourage the DoD to consider a joint (multi-service) approach to recruiting and human resources by using a shared services concept. With Army Recruiting Command and Human Resource Command at Fort Knox, and its robust information technology capability, there is a case to be made that the DoD could save money by addressing Jointness and consider Fort Knox as the location for such capability.

We believe CORE and KCMA must work together to build upon the relevant and ready assets that exist at Fort Knox and translate that into opportunities for Fort Knox to host additional activities. In our view, this will be best accomplished if CORE and KCMA continue to re-examine purpose, focus and mission; and work seamlessly for the good of our area and the commonwealth.  

This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.