2 Army posts in Ky. to lose combat brigades

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Associated Press

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 8:02 AM

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, both in Kentucky, are each going to lose an active duty combat brigade under a restructuring plan announced by the U.S. Army.

The brigades that will be eliminated by 2017 are the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, which is Fort Knox's only combat brigade. Both units have soldiers currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Fort Campbell sits on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. Robert Jenkins, a Fort Campbell spokesman, said Tuesday that the community should not necessarily expect a mass exodus of troops because most of the soldiers in the deactivated brigades would be transferred to other units.

The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell draws its lineage back to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which was activated in 1942. Soldiers from the regiment serving in World War II were made famous in historian Stephen Ambrose's book, "Band of Brothers."

Under the plan announced Tuesday, the Army will increase the size of its infantry and armor brigades by adding another battalion, which is 600 to 800 soldiers. Adding the battalion was a recommendation from commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan who said it would beef up the fighting capabilities of the brigades when they go to war.

The Army will also cut thousands of other jobs across the service, including soldiers in units that support the brigades, and two brigades in Germany have already been scheduled for elimination.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said he was disappointed by the plan to inactivate the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Knox.

"This decision will likely remove nearly 10,000 military employees and dependents from the area, which will have a profound economic impact not only on Fort Knox, but the surrounding region as well," he said in a statement.

The brigade has only been at Fort Knox since 2009 when it was relocated under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure. Beshear questioned the fiscal savings when the Pentagon spent more than $500 million for new facilities for the brigade and improvements to the installation to accommodate their families.

"While I understand that the Departments of the Army and Defense must adjust to the current budget realities, this decision seems to focus on shorter term savings at the expense of longer term readiness," Beshear said.

Ryan Brus, a spokesman for Fort Knox, said the brigade totals between 3,300 and 3,500 troops.

Brus said the total workforce of Fort Knox is about 20,000 people, including active duty and civilians.

"Fort Knox remains critical to accomplishing our Army's missions," said Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox commanding general.

The Army is being reduced in size from a high of about 570,000 during the peak of the Iraq war to 490,000 as part of efforts to cut the budget and reflect the country's military needs as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end. Additional reductions could be required if Congress allows automatic budget cuts to continue into next year.

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