Army officials announced force structure decisions and stationing plans for the reduction of the regular Army from 490,000 to 450,000 Soldiers and a reduction of 17,000 civilians during a press conference at the Pentagon July 9.
The reduction of force structure will occur in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The end-strength reduction of 40,000 Soldiers will be completed by the end of fiscal year 2018, and will be accompanied by the reduction of 17,000 Army civilian employees, officials said, adding that the cuts will affect nearly every Army installation in the United States and overseas.
Changes at White Sands Missile Range
As part of the Army’s total force reduction, White Sands Missile Range will see some reductions but these reductions will be through attrition.
WSMR Army personnel are expected to see the following estimated changes based on mission and manning:
WSMR Department of the Army civilians will go from 1,971 as of July of 2015 to 1,812 in 2017. A difference of minus 159 positions.
WSMR Army Soldiers will go from 253 as of July of 2015 to 267 in 2017. A difference of plus 14 positions.
“At this time, the WSMR family, military and civilian, will not be subjected to reductions in force; however, we anticipate through attrition and strategic workforce shaping that we will eventually sustain these lower levels in manpower without adverse actions,” said Dawn Way, Resource Management director.
Changes at Fort Bliss
According to a Fort Bliss press release, Fort Bliss will reduce the total Soldier population by 1,200 of its current 35,000 Soldiers.
The major changes are:
- 1st Armored Division Headquarters will see a reduction of approximately 225 Soldiers.
- Armored Brigade Combat Teams. 2/1 and 3/1 ABCTs will see a reduction of approximately 450 Soldiers each, or a total of 900 Soldiers.
- Other Brigade Headquarters within the 1st Armored Division will see a 5 percent reduction, or a total of approximately 70 Soldiers on Fort Bliss.
The reductions for Fort Bliss will not affect the warfighting capabilities of the 1st Armored Division or any other units on this installation.
The Army was directed to make reductions, and did so in a strategically-considered approach to preserve warfighting capability and avoid a hollow force as the Army faces continuing fiscal pressures. The approved reductions are the result of community input through listening sessions like the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment recently held in El Paso, in March, as well as strategic considerations, costs and savings analysis, and other factors.
In addition to reorganizing the operational force, the Army is cutting the civilian workforce by approximately 17,000 people. The analysis of installation impacts for civilian reductions is ongoing. Most of the losses will be achieved through planned attrition, but it is not yet clear how this will impact Fort Bliss. The details of these cuts are expected to be announced in September.
As part of these reductions, the number of regular Army brigade combat teams, the basic deployable units of maneuver in the Army, will continue to decline from a wartime high of 45 to 30 by the end of fiscal year 2017.
The Army will convert the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, into smaller units — maneuver battalion task forces — by the end of fiscal year 2017.
Brigade combat teams consist of about 4,000 Soldiers; the battalion task forces will have about 1,050 Soldiers.
The 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team will remain a brigade combat team, but will convert its primary maneuver platform, officials said. Currently a Stryker brigade combat team, it will become an infantry brigade combat team without Stryker combat vehicles.
Additionally, officials said, the Army is analyzing a proposal to use the brigade combat team’s current Stryker equipment to convert an Army National Guard brigade combat team in the Pacific Northwest to a Stryker configuration.
The Army selected these brigade combat teams for reorganization based on a variety of factors, including strategic requirements and the inherent military value of the installations where they are based, officials said in announcing the changes, adding that the force structure decisions best posture a smaller Army to meet global commitments.
Necessitated by Budget Constraints
Budget constraints are forcing the Army’s reduction, said Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations and plans.
“These were very difficult decisions to make as all of our installations and their communities offer tremendous value to our Army and the nation,” he said. “In the end, we had to make decisions based on a number of strategic factors, to include readiness impacts, mission command and cost.”
If no change takes place regarding sequestration spending caps scheduled to return Oct. 1, the Army’s end-strength will be further reduced to 420,000 Soldiers by the end of fiscal 2019, officials said, resulting in a cumulative loss of 150,000 Soldiers from the regular Army — a 26 percent cut over a seven-year period.
The resulting force, they added, would be incapable of simultaneously meeting current deployment requirements and responding to the overseas contingency requirements of the combatant commands.