13 January 2012

US Army Bringing 2 Brigades Home From Europe

The plan will be to rotate units rather than permanently station them in Europe.

Ground forces will remain important to the U.S. defense strategy, but the employment of the forces will change, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said today.
In an interview on his way to Fort Bliss, Texas, Panetta said that the Army will withdraw two brigade combat teams from Europe, while retaining a strong presence in the region via rotational units.
The change is part of a new, 10-year defense strategy announced by President Barack Obama last week that emphasizes air-sea doctrine to better allow the United States to confront more than one threat at a time, Panetta said. Still, ground forces will remain important, and soldiers and Marines will continue to deploy to Afghanistan and be on the Korean Peninsula and partnering with nations around the globe.
“We will continue to maintain our presence both in the Middle East and Asia,” the secretary said. “Yes, we’ll have the Navy and the Air Force, but in my experience, in any conflict you need to have the potential use of ground forces.”
Panetta said he is excited about the prospect of using Army units on a rotational basis, just as Special Forces and the Marine Corps do. “Getting the Army to deploy to areas conducting exercises providing, most of all, a partnership with countries in Latin America, Africa, other countries where we can show the flag” is important, he said.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno is particularly excited about the ability to develop that rotational capability, Panetta said. “It will keep the ground forces very meaningful in the future,” he said.
As the Army replaces the two brigade combat teams with rotational units, the Europeans actually will see more U.S. forces because the American forces in Europe have more often than not been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, Panetta said.
DOD officials have spoken to European leaders about the withdrawal and they understand why the change will be good for the U.S. military and NATO allies, senior defense officials traveling with the secretary said.

There's only 4 line brigades there now. So yes, that's half the available force, but it's not a lot of troops in raw numbers. One wonders (a) who is coming back, and (b) where are they going to put them - we're running out of space at some of our bases like Ft Bragg and Ft Stewart.

The Army Times has some info on who might be candidates to return.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, commanding general for the U.S. Army in Europe, said in December that he expected the Army to remove one brigade — but not two. He had proposed a brigade for removal, but was waiting for a decision on which brigade would be chosen.

“I have made an offer on which brigade that should be to the Department of the Army,” Hertling told Army Times. “I have also made an offer in terms of the timing of it, which could be sooner than they were asked for, 2015.”

The smart thing to do, Hertling told Army Times, would be to begin the drawdown process as the units come home from deployments. The 170th is in the process of redeploying and the 172nd will redeploy in late spring.

Hertling would not say which brigade he proposed removing, but all signs pointed to either the 170th or the 172nd. Both brigades were scheduled to begin conversion to the modular heavy brigade combat team upon redeployment. The DoD announcement make it likely that both the 170th and 172nd would be brought home.

Initially, both conversions were delayed. But in December, the Army announced that the 172nd would go ahead with conversion in 2013. The 170th conversion remains on hold.

By: Brant

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