WASHINGTON -- The Army will announce that it will cut more than 10 brigade combat teams, a significant reduction in the size of its fighting forces and combat power, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The Army previously announced it would reduce its end-strength from its current level of 541,000 to 490,000 soldiers by 2017 under the $487 billion of spending reductions mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act, but has not detailed where it will cut. The Army is working to notify Congress of the cuts, an Army official told Stars and Stripes.
Army officials have said they had hoped to draw down gradually, but additional spending reductions and budget pressures have put those plans in doubt, the Journal wrote Tuesday. Some defense officials said that the Army will likely have to speed up its plans for reducing the size of the force.
The Army has 47 brigade combat teams. Officials have been reorganizing the Army into fewer brigades in order to concentrate more infantry units in each brigade, the paper noted. A brigade has roughly 3,500 people.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, said last year that the Army could shrink from the current 47 combat to 34 if plans that called for increasing maneuver battalions from two to three and increasing brigades’ engineer headcounts were put into action.
The Wall Street Journal quoted a defense official as saying the brigade cuts were made after "a deliberate review," but the scope of the reductions show how much budget cuts are hurting the Pentagon and military readiness.
The cuts to be announced this week are likely the first round for the Army. They don’t take into consideration the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, which are set to reduce military spending by an additional $500 billion by 2022.
Officials said if the sequester remains in place or isn’t modified by Congress, the Army will need to consider further, deeper cuts to its force structure that could reduce the number of soldiers to well below 490,000.
Officials declined to outline the precise nature of the cuts ahead of an announcement Tuesday afternoon by Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff. Following the announcement, Odierno will visit some of the Army bases hardest hit by the cuts,