Army planning drawdown in Europe

By on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

As part of the Army’s restructuring in Europe, V Corps Soldiers will not return to Germany when their deployment to Afghanistan ends next year, senior Army leaders said Wednesday.

The move is part of an overall downsizing in Europe which will include two brigade combat teams leaving and dozens of installations closing over the next two years.

V CORPS LEAVING

V Corps headquarters, now located in Wiesbaden, Germany, is expected to deploy to Afghanistan in June with most of its 700 Soldiers. Its commander, Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, will oversee coalition operations nationwide as commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno was asked March 21 at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee, defense subcommittee, if V Corps would return to the United States after its deployment to Afghanistan. He answered “the plan is to eliminate it.”

Army officials said the V Corps flag will be returned to Fort Bragg, N.C., and its Soldiers will be reassigned via normal Army processes. They added the Army is currently conducting an assessment of its operational headquarters which will determine the final disposition of V Corps.

V Corps has been headquartered in Germany since 1951 and its original mission there was to defend the Fulda Gap during the Cold War.

170th IBCT INACTIVATING

Soldiers with the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, or IBCT, have begun inactivation preparations following last month’s announcement that the brigade would be one of two in the drawdown from Europe.

The 170th IBCT returned from Afghanistan last month to its headquarters in Baumholder, Germany. A formal inactivation ceremony for the brigade is scheduled for October.

Many of the brigade’s roughly 4,000 Soldiers and their families will be reassigned in the United States and elsewhere, while some will relocate to other units across U.S. Army Europe, officials there said.

An announcement was also made that the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade, based in Grafenwoehr, Germany, will leave Europe in October 2013. The 172nd is also returning from Afghanistan this spring.

The equivalent of two brigades are slated to stay in Europe past 2013, officials said. The 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Vilsek, Germany, will currently stay along with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy.

ROTATIONS vs. FORWARD DEPLOYMENT

Secretary of the Army John McHugh told senators at the hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee, defense subcommittee, that the Army has drawn down from about 400 bases in Europe four years ago and will continue until only about 90 bases remain. He said 50 of those would be Army and 40 will be joint installations.

Odierno said the Army will go from a force that is forward-deployed to one that will rotate from the United States to hot spots. He said forces in the United States would be regionally aligned for contingencies and stocks would be pre-positioned.

With the smaller force in Europe, Odierno said the Army will compensate by conducting even more partnership engagements with NATO allies.

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