FORT HOOD — The “Long Knives” will be sheathed in what the Army chief of staff is calling the biggest restructuring effort since World War II.
Following an announcement Tuesday from the Department of the Army that Fort Hood will lose one of its five brigade combat teams as part of the Army’s plan to reduce its force by 80,000 soldiers, post officials made official rumors that have been circulating since last spring — the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th “Long Knife” Brigade Combat Team will be inactivated.
Just under half of the unit’s nearly 3,800 soldiers are wrapping up a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan and began returning to Fort Hood last week.
“Accordingly, Fort Hood may experience a net loss of approximately 2,900 active component military positions by the end of fiscal year 2017 — a 7 percent reduction in the number of soldiers at Fort Hood,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division and senior post commander.
Several other types of formations will also be inactivated, he said.
The announcement was anticipated as the Army finalizes future force structure and stationing decisions associated with the active component end-strength reduction of 80,000 soldiers, resulting in an Army end-strength of 490,000 by 2017.
These reductions are consistent with fiscal constraints resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011 and defense planning guidance issued in 2012, but do not reflect additional reductions that will be required if sequestration-driven funding reductions remain unmitigated, the Army release stated.
“This end strength and forces structure reduction ... predates sequestration,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno during Tuesday’s news conference at the Pentagon. “So as sequestration moves on, there’ll be a requirement potentially to take more force structure out of the Army.”
He said budget reductions are forcing the Army to take a $170 billion hit over 10 years.
Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, said with the war winding down, he was aware that force restructuring was necessary.
“Although Fort Hood would be losing one of their five brigade combat teams, Gen. Odierno and I discussed that the post will likely experience less of a reduction in the number of soldiers than other installations,” Carter said in an emailed statement.
The Army’s reduction plan will involve reorganizing infantry and armor brigade combat teams to restore the third maneuver battalion and increase engineer and fires capability; reducing active component brigade combat teams from 45 modular to 33 reorganized BCTs; and continuing growth in aviation, special operations, missile defense and cyber capabilities, according to the release.
“The Army will reinvest significant portions of inactivated units to achieve the reorganization of our brigade combat teams, which will make them more versatile, agile and capable by adding a third maneuver battalion and by adding engineers and artillery capacity,” Ierardi said.
Other posts announced to inactivate a brigade combat team by 2017 were Fort Bliss; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Campbell, Ky; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Two brigades, stationed at Baumholder and Grafenwoehr, Germany, will complete their inactivation in fiscal year 2013, leaving two brigades in Europe to fulfill strategic commitments.
Decisions were based on a comprehensive analysis of installation quantitative and qualitative considerations to include training, power projection, well-being, expansibility, regeneration, geographic distribution, environmental and socio-economic impacts, cost and alignment with the defense strategy, the Army release stated.
Opportunities for community input were included through both the programmatic environment assessment public comment period and community listening session, which was held in Killeen in April.
“Fort Hood will remain an essential power projection platform and home to multiple major operating force units and force generating capabilities. Fort Hood will continue to provide superior training facilities, infrastructure and support services to our units, soldiers and families,” Ierardi said.
About the “Long Knife” Brigade
The 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team was speculated to be the unit Fort Hood would lose in these cuts since last spring. The Long Knife Brigade was activated in 2005 at Fort Bliss during the Army’s transition to modular, rapidly deployable units, and deployed to Iraq one year later, according to the unit’s Facebook page.
In March 2008, the brigade joined the rest of the First Team at Fort Hood and deployed to Iraq for a second time later that year, and again in 2010.
Just less than half of the nearly 3,800 Long Knife soldiers are finishing up the unit’s fourth deployment since activation — this time a nine-month rotation to Afghanistan.