NYT - Plan to Shift Army Units Is Complete, Officials Say
New York Times
July 27, 2005
Plan to Shift Army Units Is Complete, Officials Say
By Thom Shanker
WASHINGTON, July 26 - The Army has completed plans for bringing home 50,000 soldiers living overseas, mostly in Germany and South Korea, and settling them in bases across the United States where families will move less often and troops will be closer to training centers and ports, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
Several states with large bases - Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina and Texas - will have their Army populations grow, with the addition of at least one brigade, or about 5,000 soldiers, and their families.
The complex plans, which describe in detail where the troops will move, where new Army brigades will be located and which units will be renamed, have been approved by President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Pentagon officials said.
The relocation, to be completed by 2008, was described by two Pentagon officials who have worked on the project and were granted anonymity so they would describe the changes before an official announcement expected later this week.
In one of the most significant shifts of troops since the end of the cold war, the restationing program finds new homes for not only the 50,000 troops returning from abroad, but also for 30,000 new soldiers financed temporarily by Congress. Those increases are to help the Army add 10 brigades to its current 33 under a program to convert all of its combat units into more deployable modular units.
When the process is completed, the division headquarters and two brigades in South Korea will be reduced by one brigade - now in Iraq - that will move to the United States rather than return to South Korea.
The two division headquarters and four brigades in Germany will be replaced by one cavalry regiment built around the Stryker combat vehicle.
Another change in how the Army is positioned includes a proposal to move the I Corps headquarters, now at Fort Lewis, Wash., to Japan, although the details are still being negotiated with Tokyo.
Some details of the movement may also be shaped by decisions of a commission on base closing and realignment due by January 2006, although Pentagon officials said they had given the panel a full briefing on the repositioning plans.
The Army has devised a complicated system of swapping flags and patches as soldiers return to the United States, all to minimize the move of families from base to base.
Senior officials said one goal was to give a "quality-of-life promise" to families, assuring them of more predictability in where they would live and where children would go to school. Under the plan, regardless of how often a soldier deploys on a mission overseas, families would move no more than every four or five years.
For example, to minimize family moves, a significant number of soldiers coming back to the United States will be reassigned to units at the base where they land. The Army's eventual footprint in the United States accomplishes several important goals as the service carries out directives from Mr. Rumsfeld to become better able to train and deploy in time of war.
For the first time in decades, most of the 10 division headquarters will be at the same base as all of their brigades, rather than the current system that, for some units, places division headquarters and brigades at separate bases in the United States and even in Germany.
Units will be relocated for better access to the service's two major training centers, Fort Polk, La., for lighter forces, and Fort Irwin, Calif., for armor. The locations were also chosen for access to airports and seaports for easier deployment abroad, which for most soldiers today means Afghanistan or Iraq.
The most significant increase will occur at Fort Bliss, Tex., which will grow by about 20,000 soldiers when the First Armored Division moves there with two brigades now in Germany and one now based at Fort Riley, Kan., and one new brigade.
Fort Drum, N.Y., will grow to three brigades from two, and Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Fort Campbell, Ky., will increase by a brigade at each location.
Fort Hood, Tex., will add one brigade of the First Cavalry Division, but will lose the Fourth Infantry Division with four brigades to Fort Carson, Colo. But in a swap, an armored cavalry regiment will be located at Fort Hood instead of at Fort Carson.
Fort Sill, Okla., will gain about 4,000 soldiers, officials said.