By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 25, 2013 - As part of its force restructuring due to the Budget Control Act of 2011, by the end of fiscal year 2017 the Army will reduce its number of brigade combat teams from 45 to 33, the Army's chief of staff announced today.
In addition, Army Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters at a Pentagon news conference, the Army will shrink its active component end strength by 14 percent, or 80,000 soldiers, to 490,000, down from a wartime high of 570,000 troops.
The Army National Guard will cut 8,000 soldiers, he said, without making any force structure changes. And the Army Reserve will skip a planned force increase and maintain its current size of 205,000.
In all, 12 brigade combat teams will inactivate, the general said, including two brigade combat teams, stationed at Baumholder and Grafenwoehr, Germany, already scheduled to inactivate in fiscal 2013.
Two brigade combat teams will remain in Europe to fulfill strategic commitments, Odierno said.
One brigade combat team will inactivate at each of the following installations: Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Campbell, Ky; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
"In the future, we will announce an additional BCT to be inactivated, which will bring the number of BCTs to 32, but that decision has yet to be made," the general said.
The Army is in the process of undergoing one of its largest organizational changes since World War II, Odierno said, noting that today's announced end strength and force structure reductions are the result of provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that aren't related to sequestration spending cuts. "We are taking these actions as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011," he added.
Full sequestration beyond the current fiscal year could require another reduction in the Army's active, Guard and Reserve force structure by as much as 100,000 soldiers combined, Odierno said.
"Our 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," he said. The Army's share of these cuts amounts to $170 billion, Odierno noted.
"If sequestration continues into fiscal year 2014, Army reductions to end strength, force structure and basing announced today will be only the first step," said he added.
The Army led an exhaustive review before deciding where and how to cut, the general said, looking at the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the reductions. The final decision was based on a number of criteria, Odierno said, including the ability to train, provide for soldiers and families and the ability to expand and regenerate forces.
Geographic distribution also was considered, not only to minimize cost and environmental and socioeconomic impacts, but also to ensure the Army was in line with the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region directed by the 2012 strategic defense guidance, he said. The 33 remaining brigade combat teams will be reorganized, Odierno said.
"We will add a third maneuver battalion and additional engineer and fires capability to each of our armor and infantry brigade combat teams in order to make them more lethal, more flexible and more agile," the general said.
The changes will reduce the overall number of headquarters while sustaining as much combat capability as possible, Odierno said. "As we inactivate brigade combat teams, we will reinvest some of the soldiers, equipment and support personnel into the remaining brigade combat teams," he added.