The Fort Hood base, located in Killeen, Bell County in the state of Texas, US, was built in 1942. The base is located 60 miles north of Austin, the capital of Texas. Fort Hood is the biggest active-duty base of the US Armed Forces and currently houses the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division. Fort Hood is named in the honour of Confederate General John Bell Hood. The post is known as ‘The Great Place’ because of the quality of standard it maintains. Spread across 340 square miles (214,968 acres) in Bell and Coryell counties, the military base is the only US post with the capability to station and train two armoured divisions. The main purpose of the base is to train the assigned units, for use as a militarisation station for Army Reserve and National Guard units and to project itself as a strategic power platform.
The base currently features corps-level headquarters, two army division-level headquarters and a corps sustainment command. In addition, Fort Hood houses six brigade combat teams (BCTs), five other brigade-size formations and several other major organisations. All these units are trained, sustained and maintained at Fort Hood.
On 05 November 2009, a US Army major, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, resulting in the death of 13 people and injury of 30 people. The shooting rampage was believed to be one of the worst ever at a US military installation.
Fort Hood military base history
During World War II, there was a necessity for a location to be used as a tank destroyer tactical and firing centre where newly developed tank destroyers could be held.
Killeen, Texas was selected as the location on 15 January 1942. A 169-square-mile (108,000 acres or 43,710ha) land was acquired and the cost of setting up the camp was estimated to be more than $22m.
The camp, which also features housing and training facilities, opened on 18 September 1942. Around 300 families and 38,000 soldiers occupied the base initially, and the number of troops peaked at 95,000 a year later. The end of World War II brought about a shift in the base’s mission, thereby resulting in a radical reduction in the population of the base.
On 15 April 1950, eight years after its opening, Camp Hood was designated permanent installation status and its name was changed to Fort Hood.
During the 1960s, the post deployed many units and troops to Vietnam. In the post-war periods, Fort Hood units have operated in the Persian Gulf area. Since 1970, the post has been functioning as a prominent military base, offering training, testing, the introduction of new equipment, tactics, and organisation.
Fort Hood has been actively involved in peacekeeping efforts and also in various national and international disaster relief efforts such as the 1985 Mexico City earthquake.
Fort Hood design and construction
The original site for the construction of Camp Hood was selected in 1941. The construction of the South Camp Hood started in 1942 and it was later designated as Fort Hood in 1951. The North Camp Hood, located 17 miles to the north of the base, has become North Fort Hood. There was also a former US Air Force Base, which is now designated as West Fort Hood.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) undertook an initiative to expand the Texas state highway 195 (SH 195) from Fort Hood to Georgetown. The $161.7m step was aimed at strengthening the strategic projection capability of armed forces to and from the Gulf Coast seaports.
The US Army invested around $440m in training devices and simulations at the post over five years. Over $433m’s worth of construction projects were programmed through the fiscal years from 2007 to 2011. Of these, $200m was used for renovating family quarters at the post.
The Department of Army awarded Fort Hood Family Housing (FHFH) a funding worth $420m from its $1.1bn budget allocation for army housing in January 2021. FHFH is a subsidiary of real estate developer Lendlease. The investment will be used to upgrade the existing homes and build new houses at Fort Hood.
Fort Hood garrison facilities
In addition to the two main divisions the post serves, Fort Hood houses 12 additional units. The major command is of III Corps and the mission and vision of the post is to “maintain combat readiness”. There are 41,000 soldiers serving at the post, including infantrymen, cavalrymen and tankers. Engineers, mechanics, and healthcare professionals are also present.
Fort Hood has all kinds of primary weapon systems. There are 37,234 active-duty personnel, and 411,823 retirees, survivors, and family members. The base is also home to 11,369 civilians and contractors.
The total number of people living in the Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood Metro area is approximately 507,892, of which 13,658 are family members on post, while family members off post account for 37,477. The total number of civilians and other employees account for about 12,183.
The quarters present at the base include 5,000 for soldiers and their families, and an additional 634 for officers and their families. In addition, the base houses 75 guest quarters and 340 transient quarters. There are also 100 barracks present for the soldiers at the post. The post features 500 tanks, including the Bradley fighting vehicles, as well as 1,600 other tracked vehicles. In addition, the post houses 10,000 wheeled vehicles and around 200 aircraft, including the high-tech AH-64D Longbow Apache.
Fort Hood features 199,541 acres (about 80,750ha) of training area. Of this, a 63,000-acre (approximately 25,500ha) impact area is used for live fire training. There is also a 134,600-acre (about 54,470ha) manoeuvre area, which can accommodate 300 tracked and 900 wheeled vehicles.
Fort Hood air facilities
There are two airfields present at the post, namely Robert Gray Army Airfield (RGAAF) and Hood Army Airfield (HAAF). There are also two airstrips, Longhorn strip (3,350ft) and Shorthorn strip.
HAAF is spread across 1,500 acres with an active runway measuring 3,100ft × 144ft. An instrument approach approved by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is present for helicopters.
RGAAF is a completely instrumented airfield spread across 3,800 acres and provides training and deployment for troops.
The airfield is located eight miles from the main post and also features a terminal and an ATC radar approach control (ARAC). The terminal is named Larkin and has seating capacity for 400 people. RGAAF features a 10,000ft × 200ft runway and is therefore capable of handling large military and civilian aircraft.
RGAAF was expanded for the use of civilian purposes and is also known as the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport (GRK).