Fort Riley Officials Respond To Brigade Cuts

By: Lindsey Rogers Email
By: Lindsey Rogers Email

FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- As the Army downsizes and moves forward with massive restructuring plans, Fort Riley has made the list to have one of its combat brigades cut.

The Army is reducing the size of the service by 80,000 troops- slashing the number of combat brigades from 45 to 33 and shifting thousands of soldiers out of installations around the country.

The massive reorganization would eliminate brigades at 10 Army posts in the U.S. by 2017, including Fort Riley in Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, and Washington in addition to two in Europe. The Army will also cut thousands of other jobs across the service, including soldiers in units that support the brigades.

The restructuring includes the inactivation of two 1st Infantry Division brigade combat teams- the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, located at Fort Riley, and the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, located at Fort Knox, Ky., and currently deployed to Afghanistan.

The Big Red One's other two brigade combat teams will be reorganized in the wake of the decision.

The two brigades set for reorganization are the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, both located at Fort Riley.

Fort Riley will lose approximately 1,700 soldiers over the next four years as plan is implemented- around half of the 4th Brigade, the other half going to the other combat brigades.

"Each of the two brigade combat teams that will remain here on Fort Riley will receive additional soldiers in the size of definitely one maneuver battalion and then some additional engineer and indirect fire, field artillery capabilities. So there will be in increase but ultimately, there will be a net loss to Fort Riley," said Major Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division.

Officials say they're working to determine the impact it will have on Fort Riley and the surrounding area after Tuesday’s announcement.

"Since the start of the War on Terror more than a decade ago, the 1st Infantry Division has continuously deployed soldiers out of here. As the war in Iraq concludes and the transition in Afghanistan wraps up here by 2014, obviously we’ll have more soldiers actually back here at the division. So it’ll be a net loss but we expect that we’ll also have a lot more soldiers here with the division," O'Donnell told WIBW.

According to officials, most of the downsizing in the Army will happen through natural attrition- soldiers that will retire, soldiers that will decide to leave the military before they retire, and fewer soldiers being taken into the Army. The Chief of Staff also alluded to the possibility of early retirements being offered.

"In 2001, Fort Riley compromised approximately 2% of the total force of the Army. Right now, it’s sitting slightly over 3%. In 2017-2019 at the end of the Army-wide restructuring, Fort Riley will compromise about 3.19% of the total force. If we look at this from an Army perspective, Fort Riley maintains its viability within the Army and certainly we stay on point to provide and meet our nation’s defense," Major O'Donnell said.


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