Soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and Afghan National Army soldiers conduct a combined patrol in the village of Shabila Kalan, Zabul, Afghanistan. (Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez / Air Force)
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The Army plans to cut eight of its active-duty brigade combat teams as it shrinks the force from 562,000 soldiers to 490,000 by fiscal year 2020. As many as five more BCTs could be eliminated if Army leaders decide to add a third maneuver battalion to the remaining BCT.
The Army's Stryker brigades already have three maneuver battalions each.
Any announcement about the redesign and reorganization of the Army's BCTs is at least two months away, officials said.
The decision, pending ongoing deliberations, will determine whether the Army will add a third maneuver battalion to its airborne, infantry and armored BCTs.
The timeline for making decisions or announcements also depends on a recent report outlining the environmental impact of adding or cutting troops from various Army installations. This report is still open for public comment, as required by law, and that process must be completed before further steps are taken, officials said.
The report looked at 21 installations that would likely experience population changes and studied scenarios that ranged from cutting 8,000 military personnel to adding 3,000.
Those numbers, officials have said, are not tied to specific people or units.
"The purpose of this environmental assessment is to ensure the decision-makers consider the environmental and socioeconomic impacts before they make a decision," Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Peggy Kageleiry told Army Times. "There are many other factors that weigh into that decision, like strategic relevance, operational advantage, geographic distribution, cost [and] other statutory requirements. Just because the team analyzed all the installations does not mean every one of them will receive cuts."
So far, the Army has announced the inactivation of two BCTs — the 170th and 172nd BCTs from Germany.
No other decisions have been made, including which other BCTs might be cut, Kageleiry said.
"The Army has not decided whether or not it will reorganize its BCTs, nor has it decided which BCTs will be eliminated," she said. "Force structure decisions will be made over the course of the next several years. Adjustments will have to be made in response to evolving missions and changing world events."
In addition, the Army's overall size also is connected to the eventual budgets that will be approved for fiscal 2013 to 2020, she said.
"Decisions on force structure cannot be finalized until future budgets are determined and released," she said.