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Census regulation changes may add to count at Fort Sill

A change in Census Bureau regulations could boost Fort Sill's official population when the next enumeration rolls around in April 2020.

The Census Bureau this week announced that military personnel deployed overseas on April 1, 2020, will be counted as residents of the installation from which they deployed. In 2010 deployed personnel were assumed to be residents of their homes of record.

Fort Sill officials on Thursday couldn't provide a count of personnel who are now deployed overseas, but there are several units abroad. The 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery, for example, is sending about 350 soldiers to Korea for a nine-month tour. About 350 soldiers of 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, arrived in the Mideast in December for missions in Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, and 75th Field Artillery Brigade headquarters is also deployed.

"This change is a win for all communities like Lawton-Fort Sill," said Nathan Slate, chairman of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce. "It removes the threat of a population dip caused by troop deployments overseas. And this will benefit our community when it comes to federal funding that takes population into account."

Population counts can affect everything from legislative apportionment to federal funding.

At some installations, counting deployed personnel could add thousands, or tens of thousands, to the census count.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in a letter to the Census Bureau, said the previous method of counting had understated Fort Campbell's population by "at least 10,000 service members."

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