The number of U.S military troops is about to fall to pre-WWII levels. In fact, the last time we saw numbers this low was in 1940, right before Pearl Harbor. The Pentagon announced Thursday that it will cut 40,000 soldiers to pare down active-duty numbers to 450,000. Texas has 15 bases throughout the state and cuts will take a big bite out of not only military troop numbers, but civil service and contract workers. Sig Christenson, a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, says the city, also known as “Military City U.S.A.,” could be particularly affected.
The cuts won’t begin until October and will take place slowly through the end of the military 2018 fiscal year in September. Christenson says Fort Hood Army Base in Killeen is slated to lose 3,500 jobs and Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso will have to cut a little over 1,200 jobs. As of this airing, the Pentagon has not released numbers for any other Texas bases. But, Christenson says, there’s at least one other big base in the state that will likely have to reduce numbers as well: Joint Base San Antonio, which consists of Fort Sam Houston Army Base and the Lackland and Randolph Air Force bases. That’s a problem, he says.
“It’s a hub of medicine. It’s a huge place for not just clinical care and for rehabilitation for wounded soldiers, but it’s the sole U.S. Army or U.S. military burn center in the world. It has a lot of educational connections to universities and research,” Christenson says. “It’s a gigantic collaboration with the public and with private entities. And any cuts there could ripple into the economy.”
The base is part of the character of the city of San Antonio, he says. It’s been around since 1845, around the time the army first established itself in Texas. The city itself has a very strong identity intertwined with the military and there is a huge retiree community.