The Army on Monday officially suspended the planned downsizing of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 25th Infantry Division, citing a variety of global threats facing the nation.
“The 4/25 is ready to rapidly deploy and conduct decisive operations in urban and mountainous environments,” explained Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy. “Given continued Russian aggression, the nuclear provocations of North Korea, and the continued threat from ISIL, we need this capability,” Murphy said.
Converting the Army’s only airborne BCT in the Pacific theater into an infantry battalion task force would have resulted in the loss of about 2,600 personnel at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, where the 4th BCT is based. The realignment was announced last July as part of a restructuring intended to shrink the Army’s active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers.
The decision to postpone the move is not surprising, as top Army officials in recent months had said they were considering it in light of the security environment. The delay represents a victory for Alaska’s congressional delegation, which had lobbied vigorously against the Army’s plan since it was announced in July, reported Alaska Dispatch News.
Last month, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), “It would be contrary to strategic national security interests to go ahead and pull out the 4/25 at this time. So my thought is that we should extend them at least a year to see how the strategic situation develops and then move from there.”
With the announcement, “the Army sent a strong message that America remains dedicated to our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, understands our leading role in the Arctic, and is unyielding in our support for our critical alliances with Japan and South Korea,” according to a statement from Sen. Dan Sullivan (R).