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Bush Approves Army Reorganization
WASHINGTON — President Bush has approved what officials are describing as the most significant reorganization of American ground forces since World War II, signing off on a plan that will keep more troops than previously envisioned in Europe and add large numbers of soldiers to bases in Colorado, Georgia and Texas, Army officials said Wednesday.
The basing plan unveiled Wednesday is the final step in a detailed program for deciding where an army that is scheduled to grow by 65,000 will live and train for years to come. It significantly changes the military footprint that existed before terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and also alters a plan adopted with great fanfare by the Pentagon in 2004.
Specifically, the Army will keep one heavy brigade in Germany until 2012 and another until 2013 rather than rapidly reducing Army forces in Europe, as originally planned. Even after the return of those two brigades to the United States, two brigades will remain in Europe — one in Germany and one in Italy — along with a large contingent of service and support personnel. Altogether, the Army will sustain a total of 37,191 troops on the continent.
The commitment for thousands of extra troops in Europe was advocated as necessary to sustain training and other exercises with foreign militaries and as a hedge against risks to American security. In addition, their new housing was not yet ready at bases in the United States.
The full basing plan for the United States, Europe and South Korea was presented to Mr. Bush and Vice President Cheney in the Oval Office on Monday by Gen. Richard Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, and Pete Geren, the Army secretary.
The Army had been given presidential approval to expand its forces by 74,000 over all by 2010, including the reserve component, to meet the stress of Iraq and Afghanistan and to prepare for future threats.
Many Army installations across the United States will grow, with some of the largest expansion occurring at Fort Carson, in Colorado; Fort Stewart, in Georgia; and Fort Bliss, in Texas.
Fort Carson, Fort Steward and Fort Bliss each will receive two additional combat brigades. Additional support brigades will move to Schofield Barracks, in Hawaii; Fort Leonard Wood, in Missouri; Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, also in Texas; Fort Lewis, in Washington; and Fort Polk, in Louisiana.
A full one-third of the Army will be based at different stations by 2011, which General Cody described as the largest reorganization of American troops since the 1940s. The active-duty Army end-strength by that date is scheduled to reach 547,000.
The Army’s fighting force will grow by that date to 48 brigade combat teams from 33 in 2003.
New construction to build housing, headquarters and motor pools — as well as health-care and child-care centers — will top $66.4 billion by 2013, General Cody said, stressing that the Army was paying special attention to quality-of-life issues for the all-volunteer force.
Along with 20 new brigade complexes, 69,000 barracks spaces and 4,100 family housing units, the money will pay for building 66 new child development centers.
General Cody said that under the new basing plan, combat brigades would live alongside the support, sustainment and intelligence units with which they would go to war. "They will be based as they will train and as they will fight," General Cody said.
Overseas at the end of the process in 2013, more than 16,200 American troops will remain in South Korea.