By Debbie Gregory.
In a move that will affect virtually every Army post, domestically and abroad, the Army plans to cut 40,000 soldiers from its ranks over the next two years. Under the cost-cutting plan, the Army will be down to 450,000 soldiers at the end of the 2017 budget year. Additionally, 17,000 Army civilian employees would also be laid off.
The potential cut comes as the Obama administration is pondering its next moves against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria. More than a year after IS fighters overran much of Iraq and Syria, the United States and its allies are struggling to turn the tide against the extremists in an air campaign known as Operation Inherent Resolve. There are about 3,500 troops in Iraq.
The Army declined to comment on the proposed reductions in its forces.
The proposed changes to reach the end-strength of 450,000 include cutting the number of BCTs, the Army’s primary fighting formations, from a wartime high of 45 down to 30. Brigades at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska will be downsized from units of about 4,000 soldiers to battalion task forces of 1,050 soldiers. The brigades affected are 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning and 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in Alaska.
“I was extremely disturbed to hear the Army even consider – let alone reach a final decision on – plans to reduce troop levels in Alaska,” said Rep Don Young, R-Alaska. “In these times of growing global threats, especially in the Asia-Pacific and Arctic regions, the Army should be increasing its presence in Alaska – not cutting it by more than 2,600 soldiers.”
Some of the cuts were expected. The Army built up to a strength of about 570,000 during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but came down to the current troop strength of about 490,00 as troops were withdrawn. After most troops of the troops came home from those wars, the Army had always planned to downsize.
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Army Plans Personnel Cuts: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory