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Army Restructuring: 80,000 Soldiers, 12 Brigade Combat Teams Get the Chop

Gen. Ray Odierno, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, announced new force reductions and Army restructuring decisions during a press conference on June 25.

“Our Army is in the process of undergoing one of the largest organizational changes since World War II as we transition from a force at war,” he said, noting that the resulting decisions are “in line with the Fiscal Year 13 budget submission which implements a $487 billion reduction in DoD funding based on the Budget Control Act of 2011.”

“Let me be clear, we are taking these actions as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011. This end strength and force structure reduction predates sequestration. If sequestration continues into Fiscal Year 2014, Army reductions to end strength, force structure and basing announced today will be only the first step.”

That DoD funding reduction began in FY 13 and extends over a ten-year period. The Army’s share of the DoD reduction is approximately $170 billion.

According to Odierno, the near term funding reductions will be met in part through a reduction in authorized “end strength” from a wartime high of approximately 570,000 active duty and 358,000 Army National Guard to approximately 490,000 and 350,000 respectively. The Army Reserve is forgoing a planned growth of 1,000 soldiers and will remain at 205,000.

Army restructuring 3rd BCT, 1 ID

Army Staff Sgt. Eric Winn and Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy Carswell from C. Troop, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, scan a mountain slope with their weapons before their troop departs on a patrol in Kunar province April 10, 2009. 3rd BCT will be one of he brigade combat teams to be cut in the upcoming force reduction. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. David Hopkins

Placing those figures into a historical perspective, the FY 17 active duty force of approximately 490,000 would be slightly larger than the recent historic “low point” of 479,426 in FY 99. FY 99 also saw an authorized end strength of 357,223 National Guard and 206,836 Army Reserve.

“The reduction of 80,000 soldiers, or 14 percent, from the Active Component will be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017,” Odierno continued. “Let me be clear, we are taking these actions as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011. This end strength and force structure reduction predates sequestration. If sequestration continues into Fiscal Year 2014, Army reductions to end strength, force structure and basing announced today will be only the first step.”

Reiterating his warning later in his introduction, he repeated, “Again, I want to emphasize that these reductions do not reflect reductions due to sequestration. Full sequestration could require another significant reduction in Active, Guard, and Reserve force structure; as much as 100,000 combined.”

While those possible sequestration-driven reductions have yet to be addressed, the recently-announced restructuring involves the inactivation of 12 brigade combat teams (BCTs).

“As part of the reorganization of each BCT, we will add a third maneuver battalion and additional engineer and fires capability to each of our armor and infantry BCTs in order to make them more lethal, more flexible, and more agile,” he said.

Two overseas based BCTs, stationed at Baumholder and Grafenwoehr, Germany, will complete their previously announced inactivation during the current fiscal year, leaving two BCTs stationed in Europe. The remaining 10 BCTs facing inactivation between now and the end of FY 17 are currently located at:

Odierno added that an additional BCT will be identified for inactivation in the future, bringing the Army’s total number of BCTs to 32.

The Army Chief of Staff emphasized that the BCT structural reductions will actually increase the “tooth-to-tail ratio” of the remaining units.

“As part of the reorganization of each BCT, we will add a third maneuver battalion and additional engineer and fires capability to each of our armor and infantry BCTs in order to make them more lethal, more flexible, and more agile,” he said.

Although Odierno pointed to an extensive analysis and warfighter interview process behind the restructuring decisions, some observers point to the fact that the third maneuver battalion and other additional capabilities have not been present in the capstone Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) that have been used to establish and validate the Army’s networking capabilities over the past two years.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...

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