Army Force Reduction: “There ain’t a whole bunch of buying equipment”

There was a lot to work though after the Army announced Tuesday that they’re cutting 12 Brigade Combat Teams from the active duty force by 2017, while only reducing the soldiers in BCTs by 17,700.

They’re able to do so, of course, by only really gutting the headquarters and administrative elements from those 12 BCTs while shifting most of the muddy boots guys over to the existing BCTs, as a third maneuver battalion for each brigade.


While it’s going to be quite a logistical challenge to move those grunts around the country, Army brass still hasn’t said a lot about the effect that all of this will have on procurement programs – especially given that the service currently has three major combat vehicle programs in the works that it plans to spend tens of billions on in the coming years, starting around 2018.

In a follow-on briefing on Tuesday, the Army’s vice chief Gen. John Campbell said that changes to those programs—the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Ground Combat Vehicle, and the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle—will start to be put to paper later this summer or early fall.

“If you have X amount of trucks, X amount of different-type vehicles, you’re going to have that many less people, then you’re going to need that much less vehicles,” Campbell said.

“We will continue to work that, so I can’t give you an exact number on the acquisition” he told reporters. “But that’ll impact all the different programs that apply to people in brigade combat teams.”

Pressed about when we can expect to hear about what the Army’s plans are, Campbell said that “many of those decisions will come here in the next couple months, as we put that budget forward.  You know, late summer-early fall time frame, probably, for most of those.”

Overall though, “there ain’t a whole bunch of buying equipment” on the horizon, he said to laughs in the press room. “We’ll be divesting a lot more equipment.”

“That’s why the retrograde out of Afghanistan over the next year-and-a-half is very, very critical to the future of our Army.  So, we won’t be buying a whole bunch of stuff.”

To drill down a little further on the nature of the changes coming to the Army’s force structure, the service’s director for force development Gen. John Murray added that the Brigade Special Troops Battalion—which provides logistics and administrative support—will be transformed into an engineer battalion.

“We’ll add additional gap-crossing capability back to the BCT so they boat it across small obstacles, a breaching capability, and we’ll add additional route clearance capability back into the BCT,” he said.

Each brigade will also get an additional fires battery, or essentially two more cannons added to its arsenal.

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Paul McLeary

McLeary covers national security policies at the White House, Pentagon, the Hill, and State Department.
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