Ready or not, say goodbye

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Editorial: Feb. 23, 2014

ISSUE: Deactivation of Duke Brigade accelerated
OUR VIEW: 3/1’s departure is coming quickly

There really isn’t any good time to receive or deal with bad news. Like the ostrich that buries its head in the sand, human nature too often creates a desire in us to put off the consequences for later. Perhaps the situation might change, we think. Maybe the problem will go away. It rarely does, though.

We’ve all learned through childhood experience that the anticipation and anxiety of waiting until father gets home could sometimes be just as bad, if not worse, than the punishment received for a bad decision.

These life lessons taught us that in some situations, it’s better to simply deal with the bad as soon as possible and move on.

Take your medicine now, as the idiom goes.

The same can be said for life’s negative impacts that result from situations outside our control and through no fault of our own. The pending loss of Duke Brigade has become such an
issue for Hardin County.

The looming reality of the Army’s decision to deactivate the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division is going to be felt much sooner than originally thought. Although the stand-down of the 3/1 was expected to be complete by 2017, local Army officials recently outlined an accelerated timeline for deactivation.

Ready or not, Hardin County, Duke Brigade will be gone by the end of this year.

The decision to cut the 3/1 from the Army’s ranks was announced by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno during a Pentagon press conference in June last year. Our brave and beloved Duke Brigade is among 10 of the Army’s 45 brigade combat teams being eliminated as the Army draws down its strength in numbers by 80,000 soldiers.

While other posts also are losing combat team, none are being hit quite as hard as Fort Knox. The loss of the 3/1 will represent in a reduction of nearly 43 percent in the active duty force assigned to Fort Knox.

There’s no way this level of decline cannot have an economic impact clearly felt outside the post’s gates.

What degree of impact might come? Local and state sources have estimated as much as $10 to $16 million in tax revenues, $404 million in sales in Hardin and Meade counties, and as much as $150 million in payroll could be lost on an annual basis with Duke Brigade’s deactivation. That’s significant.

But, stand firm, neighbor. This isn’t the first time Hardin County has lived through turbulent times experienced inside the post’s gates. We’ve weathered such stormy horizons before. Together, we can most certainly do so again this time.

While the community has enjoyed and benefitted from all the “ups” experienced as a result of growth and positive transition on post, those of us who’ve been around for a while also recall the “downs” that have come along, too.

The community has seen war time surges and peace time reductions. Many still remember a dramatic economic shock in 1995 when the 194th Armored Brigade was deactivated.

Keep this in mind. The Public Affairs Office at Fort Knox said the post’s total economic impact will drop from about $2.8 billion to $2.62 billion once the 3/1 is gone. But it also notes that before arrival of the Human Resource Command and other Base Realignment and Closure chamges, it was around $1.8 billion.

What that means is, Hardin County must do more to capture more of that revenue. At days end, too many cars turn north out of the gates and head for Louisville. The goal for us must be to provide an appeal that will connect the New Fort Knox with Radcliff, Rineyville, Vine Grove and Elizabethtown.

If these experiences have taught us anything, they’ve served to affirm that Fort Knox has and will continue to play an important role in the continuing story of the United States Army. The coming chapters of this story will change as Fort Knox continues transition from its tactical deployment past to a future that will become ever more administrative in nature.

With these changes, we must continue to support Fort Knox’s troops and morphing mission with pride and enthusiasm, while working in a forward-leaning posture to bolster, diversify and insulate our economy at the same time.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.