- 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division will be deactivated
- Brigades at 10 Army bases will be eliminated by 2017
- The plan is to cut the overall size of the Army by 80,000
Joint Base Lewis-McChord will lose about 4,500 active-duty soldiers over the next few years, The News Tribune reports, as part of an overall U.S. Army reduction of force following the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Army is slashing the number of active duty combat brigades from 45 to 33, and shifting thousands of soldiers out of bases around the country as it moves forward with a longtime plan to cut the size of the service by 80,000.
Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., released a statement Tuesday that the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at JBLM will be deactivated as part of the changes.
I have been closely following these changes over the past six months and was not surprised by this news. Given the large size of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, it was difficult to imagine a scenario where its force size was not reduced, said Heck.
Heck said the moves were mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and are not related to sequestration.
Heck said JBLM will have 26,500 active-duty soldiers once the changes are complete in 2017. That s over 10,000 more than were stationed there before Sept. 11, 2001.
Officials say the sweeping changes would eliminate brigades at 10 Army bases in the U.S. by 2017, including in Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Kansas and Washington. The Army will also cut thousands of other jobs across the service, including soldiers in units that support the brigades, and two brigades in Germany have already been scheduled for elimination.
Officials provided details on the plans on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. An announcement is expected Tuesday afternoon. The Army is being reduced in size from a high of about 570,000 during the peak of the Iraq war to 490,000 as part of efforts to cut the budget and reflect the country's military needs as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end. Additional reductions could be required if Congress allows automatic budget cuts to continue into next year.
While the cuts may have less impact at some of the Army's larger bases such as Fort Hood in Texas and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, they could be more painful for communities around some of the smaller installations such as Fort Knox, where currently only one brigade is based.
The other U.S. bases that will lose a brigade are: Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Fort Carson in Colorado, Fort Drum in New York, Fort Riley in Kansas, and Fort Stewart in Georgia. Soldiers in the deactivated brigades would be transferred to other units.
The overall cut in size has been known for more than a year, and Army leaders have been working on how to manage the reduction, conducting local community meetings across the country and releasing an extensive study on the issue earlier this year.
Under the plan set to be announced Tuesday, the Army will increase the size of its infantry and armor brigades by adding another battalion, which is between 600-800 soldiers. Adding the battalion was a recommendation from commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan who said it would beef up the fighting capabilities of the brigades when they go to war.
A brigade is usually about 3,500 soldiers, but can be as large as 5,000 for the heavily armored units.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, has said he hopes to be able to cut the 80,000 soldiers through voluntary departures, without forcing troops to leave the service. But Army leaders have not ruled out forced reductions.
The cuts do not affect National Guard or Reserve brigades and units.
Officials said the decisions on the cuts were based on a variety of factors including required training resources, ranges, air space and infrastructure, as well as the need to put units near leadership and headquarters units.
Gen. Odierno is scheduled to attend a Town Hall meeting with soldiers, families and civilians at JBLMWednesday