Army cutting a Stryker brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Force being reduced by 4,000 as war in Afghanistan comes to a close

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Updated: June 25, 2013, 2:23 PM

 

A look at the Army's plans

The Army’s plans to eliminate a dozen combat brigades by 2017 will affect 10 military bases in eight states. A brigade is between 3,500 and 5,000 troops.

A look at the bases affected by the announcement Tuesday by the Army’s top officer, Gen. Raymond Odierno.

FORT BRAGG, N.C.

The home of the 82nd Airborne Division and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center will lose the 4th Infantry Brigade of the 82nd.

FORT STEWART, Ga.

The 3rd Infantry Division will lose its 2nd Armored Brigade. One of the division’s existing brigades will remain at Fort Benning, Ga.

FORT HOOD, Texas

The Army’s largest domestic base will lose the 4th Armored Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division.

FORT BLISS, Texas

The home of the 1st Armored Division will lose the 1st Armored Brigade.

FORT CARSON, Colo.

The home of the 4th Infantry Division will lose its 3rd Armored Brigade.

FORT RILEY, Kan.

The home of the 1st Infantry Division will lose its 4th Infantry Brigade.

FORT KNOX, Ky.

The 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Infantry Brigade also will be eliminated.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky.

The home of the 101st Airborne Division will lose its 4th Infantry Brigade.

FORT DRUM, N.Y.

The 10th Mountain Division will lose its 3rd Infantry Brigade at Drum but its 4th Infantry Brigade, which is based at Fort Polk, La., will remain.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash.

The home of the Army’s 1st Corps, whose operational focus is the Korean peninsula, will lose the 4th Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division. The division’s 1st Armored Brigade will remain in South Korea, as will the division’s headquarters.

GERMANY

The 170th Heavy Brigade at Baumholder, Germany, will be eliminated, as will the 172nd Heavy Brigade at Grafenwoehr, Germany. Remaining in Europe is the 173rd Airborne Brigade, at Vicenza, Italy.

SEATTLE — The Army plans to reduce the number of troops at Joint Base Lewis-McChord by about 4,000 soldiers over the next several years as part of an overall reduction in force prompted by spending cuts and the end of the war in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

The Army will deactivate the 4th Stryker Brigade, which has about 4,000 soldiers, including 1,000 now in Afghanistan who are due back this summer, said spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield.

Lewis-McChord currently has a total of 33,645 active duty soldiers, Dangerfield said. Including Air Force and reservists, the total military population is close to 40,000 he said.

As part of the Army reorganization, some combat soldiers will be added to brigades.

Army officials assured U.S. Rep. Denny Heck that Lewis-McChord still has a significant mission.

“Today’s announcement ensures that Joint Base Lewis-McChord will retain its status as the U.S. Army’s main West Coast force projection base. The base will continue to play an important role in the decades ahead as our national security strategy pivots to the Asia-Pacific region,” Heck, a Democrat, said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said she was disappointed in the reductions at the base but said it will remain “one of the premier military installations in America.”

“In the coming months, I will continue working closely with JBLM leaderships, community partners in the south Sound, and all those directly affected to make this transition as seamless as possible,” she said in a statement.

The base near Tacoma is one of 10 in the United States losing brigades in a reorganization announced by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno that will reduce troop strength by 80,000 to 490,000.

“We hate to lose anything, to be honest with you,” said Dangerfield. “It can have an impact on the organization. We will make the adjustment.”

The force at Lewis-McChord will be reduced as soldiers are reassigned or their service time expires.

“We don’t lay people off,” Dangerfield said.

It won’t affect readiness, he said.

“Our new mission now is to focus on the Pacific and we can more than meet that challenge if it comes down to the scenario, and we can be augmented,” Dangerfield said.

Some civilian jobs will be impacted and the effect on surrounding communities of Lakewood, Lacey and DuPont remains to be seen.

An Army study released early this year suggested a reduction of 8,000 soldiers from Lewis-McChord would cause more than 20,100 military family members to leave the area. It also could cause a loss of more than 10,000 military contract and private sector jobs, The News Tribune reported.

After the deactivation of the 4th Stryker Brigade, there will be two Stryker brigades — the 2nd and 3rd — at the base that pioneered the use of the eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles and first sent them into battle in Iraq.

The 4th Stryker Brigade deployed twice to Iraq in addition to its current Afghanistan mission. It was the last combat brigade in Iraq in August 2010.