US Army Chief Gen. Ray Odierno is expected to announce a plan this afternoon to cut at least 10 brigade combat teams (BCT) from the active force. (File)
WASHINGTON — US Army Chief Gen. Ray Odierno is expected to announce a plan this afternoon to cut at least 10 brigade combat teams (BCT) from the active force, a move that would have a significant impact on several domestic Army installations.
Previous publicly stated plans had revolved around reducing the Army’s 47 BCTs by about eight — with two of those coming from already identified heavy brigades stationed in Europe — as the Army winnows its force structure down from 562,000 to 490,000 troops by 2017.
But the harsh reality of the mandatory $487 billion in spending reductions required by the 2011 Budget Control Act has been weighing heavily on Army personnel accounts, which have skyrocketed since 2001.
Since 2000, Army spending on manpower has shot up 54 percent while the number of active duty soldiers has grown by only about 4 percent, officials have said, while in the 2013 budget request, personnel costs consumed 42 percent of the Army’s bottom line.
At an Army conference this past February in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Maj. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, director of the service’s program analysis and evaluation shop, said “this is why it’d be very difficult to return to a similar-sized Army with the amount of money we had in 2000.”
Army officials declined to comment before the chief makes his remarks at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
No matter how many BCTs are eliminated, the service plans to maintain as much combat power as possible by adding a third maneuver battalion to each BCT, thereby retaining its punching power.
By doing so, however, troop strength at some domestic installations would likely fall, while other installations would see an influx of troops and equipment as their BCTs grow.
The Army has been laying the groundwork for such changes for some time. In January, it released a Programmatic Environmental Assessment that took a hard look at the environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with reductions in force size across the service’s 21 domestic installations.
The report assessed the installations that would be in danger of losing 1,000 or more military employees or gaining 1,000 or more soldiers due to restructuring.
“It would be unlikely that any one installation would be selected to sustain a force reduction of more than 8,000 military employees,” the assessment states.
For example, installations with multiple BCTs were assumed to lose one BCT, 30 percent of their non-BCT soldiers and 15 percent of their civilian workforce.
The sites considered in the assessment include Fort Benning and Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; and Fort Sill, Okla.
Michelle Tan contributed to this report.