Defense bill includes new training facility at Ft. Knox, helping secure future of the post
RADCLIFF, Ky. (WDRB) -- Not long ago, Ft. Knox was fighting for survival. But the $700 billion defense bill just passed by Congress includes a new training facility for the post and seems to secure it for the near future.
The bill includes $26 million to build a new training facility at Ft. Knox called a digital area gunnery range, or DAGR for short.
“I'm not really worried about Ft. Knox going away anymore,” said Bill Barron, vice president of the Knox Regional Development Alliance.
Barron, a retired Army major general, said DAGR is high-tech, and the Ft. Knox facility will be just the second in the country.
“When it's complete in a couple of years, potentially a lot of units could look at using this for training,” he said. “Who knows, maybe even Air Force units.”
That is good news, considering just a decade ago, Ft. Knox lost its legendary armor unit, and there was serious concern about the future.
Brad Richardson, president and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce, said a stronger Ft. Knox means a stronger economy for the region.
“The compensation at Ft. Knox for federal Department of the Army civilians, and for military and retired military, accounts for anywhere from a third to almost 40 percent of the income earned in Hardin County,” Richardson said.
The defense bill also gives the post permission to produce and use its own natural gas.
“The post will receive much-needed certainty and authority for its innovative energy savings program,” said Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in a statement.
Barron said energy program could also lead to future growth.
“When you don't have problems with energy, then you can do cyber security stuff without worrying about that going down because of loss of power,” he said. “So it just makes the installation more attractive.”
It's attractive enough, Barron believes, to serve the Army for decades to come.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill.
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