Army: Cuts would include nearly half of combat brigades

 

Army leaders told a Senate panel Wednesday that combat brigades would be reduced by 46 percent if sequestration cuts continue.

“We will have no choice but to slash end-strength levels if sequestration continues in order to obtain the proper balance between end strength, readiness and modernization,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee on Wednesday.

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The Army is already planning to cut its end strength down to between 450,000 and 440,000 by 2017, but may have to go down to 420,000 by 2019 if the cuts are not overturned.

Under sequestration, the Army would have to lose a total of about 150,000 active-duty troops, 43,000 National Guard troops and 23,000 Reserve troops.

“This will cause us to reduce up to 46 percent of the brigade combat teams in the active-duty Army,” Odierno said.

He said 22 percent of the National Guard’s combat brigades would also be cut.

Odierno also noted that U.S. troops arrived in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this week to conduct joint training and to reassure Eastern European allies rattled by Russian aggression.

“It is imperative that we consider the world as it exists — not as one we wish it to be,” Odierno said. “We must ensure our Army has the ability to rapidly respond.”