APNewsBreak: Army to cut combat brigades
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
January 25, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Army plans to slash the number of combat brigades from 45 to as low as 32 in a broad restructuring of its fighting force aimed at cutting costs and reducing the service by about 80,000 soldiers, according to U.S. officials familiar with the plans.
Officials said the sweeping changes will likely increase the size of each combat brigade — generally by adding another battalion — in a long-term effort to ensure that those remaining brigades have the fighting capabilities they need when they go to war. A brigade is usually about 3,500 soldiers, but can be as large as 5,000 for the heavily armored units. A battalion is usually between 600-800 soldiers.
The brigade restructuring will unfold over several years and is intended to save money without eroding the military’s ability to protect the country and wage war when needed. Army officials contend that while there would eventually be fewer brigades, building them bigger will give them more capabilities and depth, and will reduce stress on the units.
They said specialty units, such as Army special operations forces, would not be affected by the cuts.
Reducing the overall number of brigades will also eliminate the need for the headquarters units that command and oversee them.