Today, the United States Army announced it will inactivate twelve brigade combat teams (BCTs), as part of plans to reduce end strength by 80,000 soldiers. Eight installations across the country will each lose one BCT, and two BCTs in Europe are already scheduled for inactivation.
This significant reduction in the size and capability of the Army results from the Obama administration's decision to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and reduce the size of its force from the current level of 562,000 to 490,000 by the end of 2017.
In order to reduce the number of BCTs, the Army decided to cut one brigade at each location where more than one brigade combat team were stationed. While Fort Benning and Fort Gordon were left largely untouched by these reductions, the Army will inactivate one BCT at Fort Stewart. The Army will add a battalion to each of the remaining two BCTs to mitigate the impact to Fort Stewart and the surrounding community.
Fort Stewart will see a net loss of approximately 1,300 soldiers and their families.
These cuts are not a part of the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, which are set to reduce military spending by an additional $500 billion by 2022.
If sequestration remains in effect, the Army could reduce force structure by an additional 100,000 soldiers.
In response to the Army's announcement, Georgia's senators released the following statements:
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee:
"While I am disappointed to hear the Army plans to inactivate one of Fort Stewart's combat brigades, I understand the Army is doing their best in difficult circumstances. Although these cuts are not ideal, I remain focused on working with my colleagues in the Senate to prevent any additional cuts from sequestration.
"In addition to the devastating local and national economic impacts of sequestration, further cuts would jeopardize military readiness. A properly-sized, well-prepared military deters aggression, and with persistent irregular wars in the Middle East and nuclear proliferation in unstable regions, it is vital that we not irrevocably "hollow out' the force.
"America's leaders have a duty to examine all options to bring our $16 trillion-and-growing debt under control. But sequestration is an inefficient and dangerous approach to reducing federal spending that will wreak long-term damage on our nation's military."
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and U.S. Senate Finance Committee:
"While I am disappointed to hear of the plan to eliminate a brigade combat team at Fort Stewart, I understand the Army is responding to its changing mission and to the requirements of the Budget Control Act of 2011 to reduce spending and reduce our debt. It is important to note that Fort Stewart will still be home to 19,000 soldiers and their families--that's 4,000 more troops than were stationed at Fort Stewart prior to September 11, 2001.
"At the same time, I am happy that Fort Benning and Fort Gordon will not lose troops. I will continue to work with Senator Chambliss to prevent additional cuts while ensuring our nation's military readiness is always our prime consideration."