The US Department of Defense (DoD) has announced plans to restructure the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) and subordinate units in Illesheim, Ansbach, Wiesbaden and Stuttgart, Germany.
Undertaken as part of the Army’s Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI) in Europe, the restructuring will result in the reduction of approximately 1,900 soldiers and an estimated 2,850 associated family members in the country.
Approximately 1,000 soldiers will remain in the Ansbach and Illesheim area by autumn 2016, including rotational forces, and will embark on short deployments to Eastern Europe in support of training and exercises supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Pentagon officials said the army will provide a rotational presence of an aviation battalion task force, two medical evacuation teams and an air traffic service company to augment the remaining aviation assets and personnel of 12th CAB, and will also boost aviation assets further if surge capabilities are needed.
In addition, the brigade would be boosted by the addition of nearly 20 Army civilian employees.
US Army spokesman Matthew Bourke said: "The restructuring of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade will improve efficiencies, enhance our capabilities and ensure we are ready and able to address current and future security challenges.
"The army is confident that with the mix of permanently stationed and rotating aviation assets, US Army Europe will be able to fully meet its commitments to (European Command) and other combatant commands."
The restructuring is expected to reduce the army’s helicopter fleet size in Europe to 64, including 24 Apaches, ten UH-60 Black Hawks, eight CH-47 Chinook helicopters, as well as 16 fixed-wing and UH-72 Lakota support aircraft and six medical evacuation helicopters.
According to Bourke, the forces will rotate for nine months without a gap between rotations, and will be outfitted with an additional 26 Black Hawks, and another ten in the US that are ready to deploy if required.
ARI is part of a major army initiative to streamline and upgrade US forces around the world to ensure they can meet current and future challenges in the most effective and sustainable way possible.
Image: A US Army Europe’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade UH-60 Black Hawk cruises over Budapest, Hungary, during Exercise Saker Falcon. Photo: courtesy of US Embassy Budapest photo by A Reategui.