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Archive for Friday, February 3, 2012

Chief of Staff visits Fort Riley as troop cuts loom

February 3, 2012

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— Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said Friday that the military’s recent investment in installations and the condition of training facilities will be factors as the Army reduces its forces.

Speaking to reporters at Fort Riley, Odierno said the Army has made no decisions about which units will be cut beyond two brigades in Europe. However, he said the reduction of 80,000 soldiers over six years gives the Army flexibility in how the cuts are managed.

Fort Riley is home to 18,000 soldiers. The northeast Kansas post has been adding buildings since the 1st Infantry Division headquarters returned from Germany. The Army has invested more than $2 billion in new barracks, training areas, hospital and other support buildings.

“This is a place, obviously, that we will continue to have a large contingent of Army forces for a very long time,” Odierno said.

Odierno also met Friday with soldiers training for an upcoming Afghanistan deployment.

The Army is slated by 2017 to go from 570,000 to 490,000, which is still more than the pre-9/11 levels. The number of brigades is also likely shrink, going from the present 48 to as few as 32.

“We are continuing to conduct analysis of which brigades, and really it’s more than brigades, it’s other units at well,” Odierno said. “In some way, every installation will be effected by this 80,000-person cut.”

Odierno said the reductions could be achieved through attrition, though there may be specific types of units or programs, such as more heavily armored brigades, that are cut. Civilian employees and contract workers also will affected by the cuts, he said.

The Pentagon must find some $260 billion in savings over the next five years. Congress has ordered the Defense Department to find $487 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. That figure could increase if Congress can’t find a way to avoid across-the-board reductions mandated by lawmakers last year.

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