Army Will Cut Forces By 88,000 Over Five Years
Missed due in large part due the same-sex marriage news coming from the Supreme Court was the announcement of a major force realignment by the United States Army:
WASHINGTON — Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said Tuesday that the Army would institute the largest organizational change since World War II by eliminating combat forces from 10 bases across the United States, part of a planned reduction of 80,000 active-duty troops over the next five years.
The announcement supports the Army’s effort to downsize the active-duty force to 490,000 as the military winds down from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cuts were a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act that required $487 billion in military spending cuts over a decade. This is the fourth round of budget cuts for the military since President Obama took office.
Under the plan, the Army will cut its brigade combat teams to 33 from 45 by 2017 at bases in Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington State. A brigade is roughly 3,500 to 5,000 people. Two additional brigades in Germany, at Baumholder and Grafenwöhr, have already been scheduled for elimination this year.
General Odierno said the cutbacks are only a precursor to further action. “There is going to be another reduction,” he said at a Pentagon news conference. “There is no away around it.”
The across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, which calls for some $500 million in military spending reductions by 2022, could force the Army to speed up its current plans for cuts.
General Odierno said that most of the troop reductions will occur with natural attrition, but if “full sequestration occurs,” then the Army will have to cut more officers, including colonels, lieutenant colonels and captains.
The cuts are certain to be unpopular in the communities where the bases are a significant source of local jobs, although General Odierno said the Army had tried to minimize the damage. In the past year, the Army has conducted an extensive study on the economic impacts of the reductions and held community meetings across the country.
“I know in the local communities it will have its impact,” General Odierno said. But “we’ve tried to make it as small an impact as possible for as many communities as we could.”
The brigades will be cut from Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Hood, Tex.; Fort Bliss, Tex.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
There’s bound to be some pushback from Congressman and Senators representing these communities, not to mention the defense hawks on Capitol Hill. However, given the fact that we’ll soon be standing down from more than a decade of war, this seems like an entirely logical step. Not only does there seem to be more than enough room to cut the defense budget without endangering the nation’s security, but cutting back our forces after a long period of war would seems to make it less likely that our leadership will be likely to engage in foolish commitments requiring large long term commitments of troops. And that’s a good thing.