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July 9, 2015 – Breaking Defense, By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

This afternoon, the Army announced the painful details of long-awaited cuts. The service must shed 40,000 active-duty troops between now and October 2017, with almost half of them coming from 26 installations across the country.

Aerial view of soldiers parachuting from a transport plane
An Army airborne exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. (U.S. Army)

WASHINGTON: This afternoon, the Army announced the painful details of long-awaited cuts. The service must shed 40,000 active-duty troops between now and October 2017, with almost half of them coming from 26 installations across the country. The hardest hit: Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Hood, Texas; and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska — all of which lost more than 2,500 soldiers. (See charts below). Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington, Fort Bliss in Texas, and Schofield Barracks in Hawaii all lose more than 1,000 troops apiece.

All told, there are 19,257 soldiers in today’s detailed list giving troops lost by base. The other half of the 40,000 will come from reductions in training programs, support functions, and the previously announced Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI), which eliminates three active-duty helicopter brigades.

Bar chart showing how army cuts by installation
Soldiers downsized by base, from 2015-2017.

Four installations will actually grow, but by modest amounts far smaller than the cuts elsewhere. Fort Sill, Okla., the home of Army artillery, will gain 219 soldiers. Fort Meade, Md., home of Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, will gain a pittance, 99. Fort Knox, Kentucky gains 67 and Fort Gordon, Georgia 41.

The cuts will cut the Army’s fighting force to 30 Brigade Combat Teams. Benning and Elmendorf will each lose most of a brigade, each base downsizing a 4,000-strong brigade to a single 1,000-strong battalion. In addition, a brigade at Schofield Barracks will trade in its eight-wheel-drive Stryker armored vehicles and shift to less-expensive foot troops, although the Strykers may stay in service with the National Guard.

The Army took pains to emphasize that this 40,000 cut is just the beginning if the Budget Control Act caps (commonly known as sequestration) are allowed to take effect at the end of this fiscal year, as is current law.

“This 40,000-soldier cut that will be shortly announced will only get us to the programmed force [in the current budget],” the Army Vice Chief, Gen. Daniel Allyn, told an Association of the US Army event this morning. “It does not deal with the continued threat of sequestration. So if Congress does not eliminate sequestration – [which] will come back in October of this year — we will face another 30,000-soldier cut in the active force.”

“At that point,” Allyn continued, “we will no longer be capable of fulfilling our responsibilities in accordance with the national security strategy.”

Tabular listing of Army cuts by installation

 

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.