U.S. Army to reduce combat brigades


(CNN) – The U.S. Army announced on Tuesday it plans to cut 12 combat brigades as part of steep budget austerity and other planned military changes associated with the ending of two wars and a sweeping military restructuring.

Additionally, the Army plans to cut roughly 14 percent or 80,000 troops mainly from its peak Iraq-war active-duty total. The National Guard will take a slight hit and the Army reserve will actually add 1,000 troops, according to Gen. Ray Odierno.

After the reductions are in place, the Army will field 490,000 active-duty forces, 350,000 National Guard troops and 205,000 reserves. Most of the cuts have come through attrition and the overall total was previously known.

The Pentagon is implementing planned budget cuts of nearly $500 billion over 10 years. But Odierno warned that more force reductions would be coming if separate, forced government spending cuts that took effect in March and hit the Pentagon hard were to continue into next year.

The Army’s combat brigade reorganization to 33 will reduce the overall number of headquarters while sustaining as much combat capabilities as possible, Odierno said at a news conference.

Twelve brigade combat teams, two in Germany, will be inactivated, leaving two brigade combat teams in Europe. Ten others will be cut from U.S. bases. A brigade equals about 3,500 troops and the cuts will include armor and infantry.

Domestic bases impacted by the change include: Fort Bliss and Fort Hood in Texas; Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Fort Campbell and Fort Knox in Kentucky; Fort Carson in Colorado; Fort Drum in New York; Fort Riley in Kansas; Fort Stewart in Georgia, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

The 33 remaining brigade combat teams will be reorganized.

“We will add a third maneuver battalion and additional engineer and fires capability to each of our armor and infantry brigade combat teams in order to make them more lethal, more flexible and more agile,” he said.

The changes are due to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017.

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