The US Army has announced force structure decisions and stationing plans that would see the size of the regular army shrink from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers by 2018.
Driven by fiscal constraints arising from the Budget Control Act of 2011 and defence strategic and budgetary guidance, the reductions are expected to impact nearly every army installation, both in the continental US and overseas.
Fort Leonard Wood, alone, will have to bear the loss of 774 positions between now and 2017.
In addition to the regular forces reductions, the army is also set to reduce the number of civilian employees to approximately 17,000. The cuts will be absorbed through attrition and positions that are currently unfilled.
As part of the plans, the number of regular army brigade combat teams and the basic deployable units of manoeuvre will continue to be cut down from wartime high of 45 in 2012 to 30 by the end of 2017.
The 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, will be converted into manoeuvre battalion task forces by the end 2017.
In addition, the army will continue to maintain the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, but after converting it to a two-manoeuvre battalion infantry brigade combat team.
The plan also calls for the reduction of the size of two-star-and-above headquarters.
The end-strength will be reduced to 420,000 soldiers by 2019, if the army fails to address the current law budget caps, commonly referred to as sequestration, resulting in a cumulative loss of 150,000 soldiers from the regular army, a 26% cut over a seven-year period.
According to the army, the resulting force would be incapable of simultaneously addressing the existing deployment requirements and responding to the overseas contingency needs of the combatant commands.
Image: US soldiers competing in the Army Warfighter Challenge at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, US. Photo: courtesy of Benjamin Faske, US Army.