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Kentucky and Texas are the only two states to lose two brigade combat teams in the U.S. Army restructuring announced yesterday by Army Gen. Ray Odierno.
In compliance with the Budget Control Act of 2011, Fort Knox will lose the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, the only combat brigade at Fort Knox. Fort Campbell will lose the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. The brigades will be eliminated by 2017.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said he was deeply disappointed by the plan to inactivate the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Knox, adding in a statement, “This decision will likely remove nearly 10,000 military employees and dependents from the area, which will have a profound economic impact not only on Fort Knox, but the surrounding region as well.”
The brigade has only been at Fort Knox since 2009 when it was relocated under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure. Beshear questioned the fiscal savings when the Pentagon spent more than $500 million for new facilities for the brigade and improvements to the installation to accommodate their families.
“Building joint capabilities in the areas of recruiting and human resources is an obvious avenue to efficiency. Fort Knox is a vital component in the Army’s portfolio of installations, and clearly, the functions there must be leveraged to the fullest extent possible,” said Beshear.
He added that he understood the need to meet budgets, but felt the Fort Knox 3rd BCT inactivation focused on “shorter term savings at the expense of longer term readiness.”
Two brigade combat teams stationed in Germany at Baumholder and Grafenwoehr are already scheduled for inactivation later this year. The Defense Department announced an additional eight teams scheduled for dismantling at Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The two in Texas, for a total of 12, are Fort Bliss and Fort Hood.
The U.S. will retain 33 brigade combat teams for now, but will shrink its “active component end strength” by 80,000 soldiers or 14 percent, said Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff. In addition, the Army National Guard will cut 8,000 soldiers, and the Army Reserve will cancel a planned force increase.
“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,” said Odierno.