Army Moves to Shut Down 159th Combat Aviation Brigade

U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, fly overhead. (Army photo)
U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, fly overhead. (Army photo)

The Defense Department is poised to announce the shuttering of Fort Campbell, Kentucky's, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, according to Congress.

The long anticipated closing means Fort Campbell will lose about 2,400 soldiers.

"We are deeply disappointed by the Obama administration's decision to remove the 159th CAB from Fort Campbell," Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, and Rep. Ed Whitfield said in a joint statement. "It is bad news for our nation's security and for the local Fort Campbell community."

Fort Campbell leadership confirmed the news.

"The inactivation of this unit is derived from the Army's aviation restructure initiative," post leaders said in a statement. "Locally, this means Fort Campbell will lose slightly more than 2,400 soldiers, as well as aviation assets which include aircraft and equipment. The personnel loss figure becomes more dramatic when family members are included. Dependent figures at this time are roughly 3,800."

The news does not come as any surprise to members of the 159th.

"We knew it was possibly coming, I kept hoping it wouldn't, though," Stephanie Sparks, an Army wife who said her husband was in the unit, wrote on a Fort Campbell-based Facebook page. "We have just been here six months."

The decision also means the end of Fort Campbell's 101st Airborne Division's distinction as the only Army Division with two combat aviation brigades. The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade is also housed on Fort Campbell.

The decision to shut down the 159th is likely the direct result of a plan to retire the Kiowa helicopter. Army leaders had planned to replace the Armed Aerial Scout program, but have since canceled the program because of the Army's shrinking budget.

The cuts are part of a larger restructuring plan, forced in part by budget cuts and sequestration. The Army is expected to shed about 69,000 soldiers by the end of the drawdown.

McConnell, Paul and Whitfield renewed their concerns that those troop cuts would cause future problems.

"We believe that cuts need to be made in places other than deployable troops as a means to make smart cuts to government spending," the lawmakers said. "We also must not allow our number of troops to fall to the dangerously low levels being sought by the Obama Administration, especially at a time of increasing instability in the world."

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at

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