Army reorganization shifting thousands of soldiers in plan to better fight modern battles
WASHINGTON – Army bases in Texas, Colorado, Washington, Kansas and elsewhere will gain thousands of soldiers as the military brings home 50,000 troops from Germany and Korea and reorganizes into a force designed to better fight modern battles.The shifts will mean upheavals for many soldiers and their families in the coming years. But Army officials said Wednesday the effort will mean over the long term that families will move less often.Gen. Richard Cody, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said it was the biggest change in the Army since the beginning of World War II. Ray Dubois, a special assistant to the Army secretary, spoke of the “true cornerstone of Army transformation in the 21st century.”The army is rebuilding around 43 ground combat brigades, each with between 3,500 and 3,900 troops. The goal is to have the brigades operate far more independently than existing ones, which rely heavily on their larger division structures to function in a war zone.Divisions were set up to do battle with an enemy such as the Soviet Union. The new brigades will function in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.The restructuring takes place as the Pentagon withdraws tens thousands of troops from their Cold War homes in Germany and South Korea.Many units from Germany are going to Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Riley, Kan. In some case, the troops will go to other bases and change units.The new brigades are built around one of three designs:-light, primarily infantry.-Stryker, built around the Stryker armored vehicle.-heavy, which have tanks and armored infantry carriers.That compares with 13 designs among the 33 old Army brigades, each with between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers.Some the changes are under way; others will not be completed until 2009.Some troops will go with their unit and change their home base; others will change units but stay at the same base; and some units will rotate to Iraq or Afghanistan, then change their designation and home base when they finish.Under the reorganization:-Fort Bliss will be home to the 1st Armored Division, amounting to four brigades and a division headquarters. A division headquarters will have about 1,000 troops under the Army’s new design. The unit is primarily based in Germany.Some other Bliss troops, trained in anti-aircraft weaponry, are set to move to Fort Sill, Okla., under the base closing process now under way.Including these moves, the base will have a net gain of about 18,300 soldiers between 2003 and 2011, according to calculations by the Army.-At Fort Hood, Texas, the 4th Infantry Division will move two brigades, plus its headquarters, to Fort Carson, Colo.The third brigade of the 4th Infantry Division will change shoulder patch and join the 1st Armored Cavalry as its new, fourth brigade. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment will move from Carson to Hood. The III Corps headquarters, about 1,000 troops, will stay at Hood.Army spokesman Paul Boyce said Hood will have gained a net 700 soldiers between 2003 and 2011 under the military’s current plans.-Fort Lewis, Wash., now home to two brigades, will add a third, and all will become part of the 2nd Infantry Division. The fourth brigade of the division, plus its headquarters, will remain in Korea. The Army is negotiating to move I Corps headquarters, also at Lewis, to Japan. Lewis is expected to grow by 11,300 soldiers by 2011, the Army said.-Fort Riley will be home to most of the 1st Infantry Division, three brigades and the headquarters. Much of that unit has been based in Germany. A brigade of the 1st Armored Division, now at Riley, will move to Fort Bliss. Riley will gain 9,400 soldiers, Boyce said.-Fort Carson, Colo., will be home to the entire 4th Infantry Division, four brigades plus a headquarters. Many of these units are coming from Fort Hood. One brigade, formerly part of the 2nd Infantry Division based in Korea, will come from Iraq. Carson will grow by 8,200 soldiers.-Fort Drum, N.Y., is adding a new brigade to the 10th Mountain Division. Drum will have grown by 6,300 soldiers by 2011, Boyce said.-Fort Knox, Ky., will add a fourth, new brigade from the 1st Infantry.-Fort Bragg, N.C., will add a fourth, new brigade to the 82nd Airborne Division, already stationed there.-Fort Polk, La., will lose the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment to Germany, where it will become the sole ground combat brigade stationed there. A fourth brigade of the 10th Mountain Division is standing up in its place.-Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, will gain about 3,700 troops under the 25th Infantry Division by 2011.-Fort Richardson, Alaska, is adding a brigade under the 25th Infantry Division, which is headquartered in Hawaii.That will leave only three ground combat brigades permanently stationed overseas – one in Korea, one in Germany and one in Italy. The Army will also break up its 5th Corps headquarters in Europe, Cody said.