By Maj. Gabby Thompson, 3rd Cavalry Regiment Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas-Col. Kevin D. Bradley, commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, was the guest speaker during the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee luncheon held at the Central Texas Home Builders Association, Oct. 21.

According to the Harker Heights Chamber website, the Military Affairs Committee (MAC) focuses on supporting military awareness in the community and assists in bridging the gap between the community and Fort Hood.

“We treasure the ability to partner with Harker Heights,” said Bradley. “You have been there when we’ve redeployed, in between, and helped us get out the door a couple of times over the last few years…so on behalf of the regiment, thank you for all you have done to support us.”

Approximately 75 members of the Harker Heights Chamber, the MAC and others were present for the luncheon, where Bradley provided updates on the regiment’s contributions to the community and training updates before fielding questions from chamber and community members.

Earlier this month, the regiment began steadily increasing its training as it prepares for the upcoming summer rotation to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. That increased training has added a great deal of noise both on and around Fort Hood.

“The number of small arms [weapons] being shot, the number of cannons going off, there’s probably a ‘Brave Rifles’ trooper pulling the trigger or pulling that cord…it’s important for what we are trying to accomplish…getting them ready for when their nation needs them,” said Bradley.

Over the next 6 months, the regiment will train hard and often, increasing in scale to fully prepare for the National Training Center. Preparing to deploy and deploying is always at the forefront of how the regiment trains.

“Between now and Christmas, we’re going to focus on platoon-level training…after Christmas we’ll focus on troop-level training, then in March we’ll pack up our equipment for the National Training Center,” said Bradley. “In April, we’ll ship [our equipment], then in May we’ll spend about good month in the California desert seeing what we’ve been able to accomplish over the last few months.”

The regiment’s rotation to the National Training Center is their culminating event, signifying their readiness as a unit.

“These rotations allow us to execute the planning and actual movement of our equipment…so that when we come back, the regiment can move into the deployment pool as the Army’s Immediate Response Force.”

The most recent deployment of the Army’s IRF was the 82nd Airborne Division deployment to Kabul during the Afghanistan evacuee mission.

There are currently over 4,400 troopers proudly serving in the regiment, with a robust vehicle fleet to match. With just over 1,000 vehicles, maintaining the regiment’s fleet and high readiness rates is challenging due to the sheer scale and volume of the fleet and often contentious repair parts supply chain, but Bradley is focused and dedicated to keeping the regiment ready at a moment’s notice.

“At least two times a month, we conduct sustainment terrain walks, where I, the regimental staff and technical experts visit squadron motor pools where squadron leadership walk us through their maintenance and logistics processes,” said Bradley. “We need to consistently ensure our leaders and staff who may have changed positions what we expect of our maintainers and how we can continue to be successful.”

Bradley also provided a summary of the regiment’s previous missions, including the summer Cadet Summer Training mission, where over 900 troopers traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky, providing basic Army skills training, mentorship and leader training support to almost 10,000 cadets during the Army’s largest single training event of the year.

Bradley also highlighted the ongoing efforts to re-energize the regimental footprint, affectionally dubbed “Brave Rifles Country” on Fort Hood. The regiment is responsible for most of the buildings that run east of the newly renamed Legends Way beginning at T.J. Mills Boulevard and ending around Red Bud Drive.

The regiment kicked off its 175th anniversary celebration with Brave Rifles Week in May, and has since made changes to building, street and field names, updated some of the landscape and taken steps to directly address recommendations from the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee report published in December 2020.

“My assessment today is that the climate has changed,” said Bradley. “The one bellwether I use to determine that change is our store in front of the regimental headquarters that our association runs…in the 3 months leading up to Brave Rifles Week, they sold more t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts than we had sold in the last 5 years…we’re on a decent trajectory to getting that morale and pride back.”

There is more evidence of change around the regiment, too. A FHIRC finding revealed the regiment did not have dedicated space for its Equal Opportunity or Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention program professionals to operate.

“We named the building in the center of our regimental area ‘Old Bill Hall,’ and that’s a one-stop shop where a non-commissioned officer can take a soldier who needs help…we painted and renovated the building and it now houses our SHARP, EO, re-enlistment, Military Family Life Coordinator staff and has a computer lab with 20 computers for our soldiers to use for professional development or college courses.”

The community was also pleased to see the one-stop shop concept come back to Fort Hood.

During the question and answer portion of the luncheon, Sgt. 1st Class (Retired) Ken Cates, chief executive officer of the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, remembers a time when one-stop shops were common and necessary for soldiers.

“I applaud your team for reestablishing the one-stop shop,” said Cates. “As a retired Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, we had one in 69th Air Defense Artillery…it facilitates that openness where troopers can seek help.”

The regiment also participates in Fort Hood’s robust Adopt a School program, teaming up with 12 schools throughout the central Texas community and 2 in Harker Heights-Union Grove Middle School and Harker Heights Elementary.

“I’m sure the students get a kick out of having the troopers on campus, asking them all sorts of questions,” said Bradley. “So far this year, we’ve volunteered over 175 hours in our Harker Heights schools and we’re involved in some revitalization projects around the schools as well.”

Bradley invited the chamber to help spread the good news about the regiment, beyond what the local community may see in the news, in the paper or even on social media.

“We’ve had some great support from the local media here,” said Bradley. “I do really appreciate the media and the leaders in this room who have helped us to talk about the good things we have going on in the regiment.”

Over the next 6 months, as the regiment trains for the National Training Center, there will be media days open to both media and the local community to come observe training, interact with soldiers and get a closer look at the newly modernized vehicle fleet in the regiment.

Whether speaking about training, the regiment’s success or upcoming training, one theme remained the same: community.

“As we transitioned as an Army and moved from smaller bases in the cities to larger bases, we’ve lost a sense of community,” said Bradley. “It’s really important to the regiment and our troopers that we get back out there and reach out to all the great communities around us and make those bonds and connections.”

For more information about the 3rd Cavalry Regiment community relations or how to join for upcoming media days, contact the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Public Affairs at 254-423-5741 or [email protected].

Col. Kevin Bradley (center) with members of the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee in Harker Heights, Texas, Oct. 21.
Col. Kevin Bradley speaks to the audience during the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee luncheon in Harker Heights, Texas, Oct. 21.
Col. Kevin Bradley (left) speaks to Sgt. 1st Class (retired) Kevin Cates, the chief executive officer of the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, in Harker Heights, Texas, Oct. 21.