Army to Cut 12 Combat Brigades by 2017 in Postwar MoveTony Capaccio
The U.S. Army will reduce its core combat units to 33 from 45 by 2017 as part of a drawdown from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in response to federal budget cuts.
The elimination of 12 brigade combat teams announced today at the Pentagon will help deliver on plans to pare the active-duty service to 490,000 troops. That’s 80,000 fewer soldiers than currently and about 10,000 more than at the time of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Army also will reduce troops in other units not yet specified.
“We’ve tried to make it as small an impact as possible” on communities in states from New York to Texas and Washington that will lose units from local bases, General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said today at a Pentagon press conference. No bases will be closed, he said.
A brigade combat team is a self-contained unit, complete with its own headquarters, intelligence operations and medical capabilities. A team typically has 3,000 to 5,000 troops plus support personnel.
The reduction reflects in part the Pentagon’s increased emphasis on Asia. The strategy unveiled in January 2012 puts greater emphasis on naval and long-range air forces.
Deeper cuts will be needed if $500 billion in defense cuts over a decade remain in effect under the process called sequestration, Odierno said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is considering options for further cuts as part of a strategic management review. Pentagon proposals for that document have been submitted to Hagel.
The U.S. brigade combat teams to be deactivated are based at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington State; Fort Bliss and Fort Hood in Texas; Fort Riley in Kansas; Fort Stewart in Georgia; Fort Drum in New York State; Fort Carson in Colorado; Fort Campbell and Fort Knox in Kentucky; and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, according to Army documents. All of the bases except Fort Knox will continue to have brigade combat teams.
Among specific units being deactivated are the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at Fort Drum.
Two of the 12 brigades are based in Grafenwoehr and Baumholder in Germany and will complete their deactivations this year, leaving two brigades in Europe to support North Atlantic Treaty Organization and U.S. missions, according to the documents.