Where Might Returning European Brigade Go, Hutchison Asks
Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) asks the Army to identify the best U.S. installations to locate a brigade combat team similar to the one scheduled to be brought home from Germany in 2015, in an amendment approved during markup Thursday of the fiscal 2012 military construction and veterans affairs spending bill by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Hutchison’s request follows DOD’s announcement in April that only one of the four Europe-based brigade combat teams would be relocated to the United States, a change from its 2004 plan to withdraw two of the units and reduce U.S. forces in Europe from 100,000 to 60,000.
Her request to the Army specifies that it should consider “installations with the existing infrastructure to support a brigade combat team and can provide the most current training facilities in an environment that provides the conditions needed to prepare the brigade for future combat deployments.”
Hutchison may be eyeing Fort Bliss as the best candidate to house the brigade. Bliss was one of three posts to lose out on a promised brigade combat team after then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced in 2009 that only 45 brigades would be created — rather than 48 as had been called for initially — under the Army’s Grow the Force initiative.
The senator also asks the Army to identify the brigade combat team that will be withdrawn from Germany, along with the estimated incremental cost associated with keeping the brigade in Germany through Sept. 30, 2015, instead of bringing it home in FY 2012, according to her amendment.
The Army would respond to the senator’s questions as part of a study called for in the committee report accompanying the milcon spending bill. That study would describe the Army’s plans for returning installations to Germany and include a list of construction projects required at other installations to facilitate the downsizing and consolidation of Army forces in that nation.
The committee said it “remains concerned” with the Army’s transformation and realignment plans in Europe, noting that “the Army continues to have challenges articulating its long-term plans and justification for its forces and installations in Europe.”