Two combat brigades in Germany being disbanded, not moved back to US

Soldiers of the 172nd Infantry Brigade

From Lolita C. Baldor, the AP:  Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, says the Pentagon will take two heavy armor brigades out of Europe in 2013 and 2014 and eliminate them.

Odierno says the military is working hard to mitigate the impact on European allies, and will rotate other Army units into the region to train with NATO partners.

The units will be eliminated, rather than moved back to the United States. Odierno says removing two of four brigades now in Europe will not necessarily make NATO allies shoulder more of the load if ground forces are needed for a large-scale operation in the region.

The units to be dismantled are based in Germany – the 172nd Infantry Brigade, currently in Grafenwoehr, and the 170th Infantry Brigade in Baumholder. . . .

Over the long-term, U.S. officials said they are planning to slash the number of combat brigades from 45 to possibly as low as 32. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss planning. Odierno said eight brigades will be shelved over the next several years, and officials will decide in the next six months or so if additional units should go.

Officials said the 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 are robust and able to perform their missions without straining the force.

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 and 800 soldiers.  (photo: Stars and Stripes)

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