The Army will reorganize two brigade combat teams and convert at least one more in the coming months as it cuts 40,000 soldiers to reach an active-duty end-strength of 450,000.
This latest set of force structure cuts is scheduled to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017. The personnel cuts are expected to take a year longer to complete, by the end of fiscal 2018.
Since 2012, driven by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and ongoing budget cuts, the Army has shed 80,000 soldiers and shut down 13 brigade combat teams, including two in Germany and one in South Korea, to reach an end-strength of 490,000. The Army also has inactivated one combat aviation brigade and reduced a second CAB into a headquarters element. At the same time, it has reorganized its remaining BCTs, adding a third maneuver battalion to infantry and armored BCTs stationed in the U.S. and boosting the engineer and fires capabilities in all of the units.
In total, by the end of fiscal 2018, the Army will have cut 120,000 soldiers — or 21 percent of the active force — since 2012.
This year, the key units affected by reductions are 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, and 4th BCT, 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The brigades will be converted into maneuver battalion task forces, which means they each will go from having about 4,000 soldiers to a task force of about 1,050 soldiers.
The 3rd BCT is the 3rd Infantry Division's sole brigade at Fort Benning; the rest of the division is at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Once the 3rd BCT's conversion is completed, it will remain part of the 3rd Infantry Division and provide the division with a deployable light infantry battalion.
The 4th BCT, 25th Infantry is the only airborne brigade combat team on the western side of the country. The battalion task force that will remain will provide U.S. Army Alaska with deployable, air-droppable capability in the Pacific, officials said.
The moves will leave the Army with 30 active-duty brigade combat teams by the end of 2017, down from a wartime high of 45 in 2012.
In addition, the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, will be converted into an infantry brigade combat team with two maneuver battalions. This means the brigade will lose not only its Strykers but also one of its maneuver battalions. Stryker brigades have three maneuver battalions, while infantry brigades outside the continental United States only have two.