Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Not just a disturbance in The Force, but a complete gutting.

Once again, I sense a great disturbance in The Force. In this case, the force in question is our Army force, and it's a force about to be gutted once again.

I remember the drawdown of troops that started when I was in Germany in the late 80s. While I was there, the Army shut down the 8th Infantry Division and the 56th Field Artillery Command, the command responsible for the Pershing intermediate range nuclear missiles. The drawdowns stopped abruptly at the end of 1990 when Papa Bush found himself headed to Gulf War 1. That brought a new term to my lexicon: Stop Loss.

Stop Loss meant that NO ONE, and I mean no one, was allowed to exit the Army unless under the most dire of emergencies. No one was leaving their units, either. If you were scheduled to get off active duty, you were stuck in Uncle Sugar's service until further notice. If you were scheduled to leave your unit and transfer to another unit, scratch that till further notice. Several of my friends were stuck going to Iraq when they were supposed to be getting out and starting college or starting police jobs they had set up in advance.

After the war ended, Stop Loss ended too, and the great RIF of 91 began. Reduction In Force meant at that time that "Hey, the Russians are a non-issue, we just won a quickie war, and you guys are no longer needed", and basically the Army was letting people take Early Outs and Early Retirements if they had served a certain amount of their enlistment contracts.

The Clinton years saw a further reduction in forces and we found ourselves after 9/11 with less equipment and fewer troops than we would have liked. The active duty Army had to rely MUCH more on reserve components and National Guard units than ever before since WW2. Fewer troops meant longer deployments and more frequent deployments, especially in our Special Operations forces. It's nothing in the SpecOps community to see guys who have made 20 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the regular forces, I saw guys make three to five and sometimes as many as seven rotations through the combat theater.

And now Obeezy and his minions are busily gutting the military again, cutting the forces we do have left. This means that when things go to shit again in the Middle East (and they always do; just look at Syria)or when something threatens us domestically  we'll have fewer assets around to deal with it.

We have a Navy with the fewest ships since the First World War, when we had a 600-ship Navy under Reagan. Sure, our ships are more capable now than ever before and in some cases one ship can do the work of two or three of its predecessors, but fewer ships means longer deployments and a longer time between refits and maintenance. Gear wears out and doesn't get replaced and it fails and people die. People get tired, mistakes get made, and people die.Families get tired of longer deployments and marriages die. Dudes stop re-enlisting. The force suffers.

They canceled the Air Force's orders for F-22 Raptor fighters. Just make do with the excellent-but-thirty-year-old planes you have now. The F-35 program crawls along and stalls.  Just make do with the excellent-but-thirty-year-old planes you have now.

I'm just the messenger...

And now, the Army announces that it's cutting 12 Brigade Combat Teams over the next three and a half years.  In addition, Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno told reporters at a Pentagon news conference the Army will shrink its active component end strength by 14 percent, or 80,000 soldiers, to 490,000, down from a wartime high of 570,000 troops.

The Army National Guard will cut 8,000 soldiers, he said, without making any force structure changes. And the Army Reserve will skip a planned force increase and maintain its current size of 205,000.

In all, 12 brigade combat teams will inactivate, the general said, including two brigade combat teams stationed at Baumholder and Grafenwoehr, Germany, that were already scheduled to inactivate in fiscal 2013.

Two brigade combat teams will remain in Europe to fulfill strategic commitments, Odierno said.

This makes sense to some of you...

One brigade combat team will inactivate at each of the following installations: Fort Bliss, TX; Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Campbell, KY; Fort Carson, CO; Fort Drum, NY; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Knox, KY.; Fort Riley, KS; Fort Stewart, GA, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington. (God I hate that Joint Base name crap. It's their new way of combining a local Army base and Air Force base into one giant entity to keep it from being closed. It's all the latest rage. Locally, Joint Base Charleston combined the Navy's Goose Creek Weapons Station (which houses their nuclear power school) and the Charleston Air Force Base)

In Germany, the 172d Infantry Brigade Combat Team is going to get the axe in Grafenwoehr (or just Graf as we called it), leaving the Second Cavalry Regiment to hold the line at Graf. Up in Baumholder (The Rock, as it was always known) I'm less certain who was closing up shop as their website listed no current BCT at the base. Baumholder was actually supposed to close as a base not too long ago but seems to have been spared. Most recently though the base was home to the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which closed up shop and disbanded six months ago.

As for the other bases, it's starting to come out as to who is going to have to "case the colors", Army lingo for closing up shop, folding your flag, and being shut down. At Fort Bliss, it is rumored that the 3d Armored Brigade Combat Team, part of the First Armored Division, is the likely unit to be axed. At Fort Bragg, it's looking like it's the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team. At Campbell, it's the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, which traces its lineage back to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which was activated in 1942. Soldiers from the regiment serving in World War II were made famous in historian Stephen Ambrose’s book “Band of Brothers.”

Up in New York at Fort Drum, it's the Spartans of the 10th Mountain Division's 3d Brigade Combat Team. At Fort Carson it's the 4th Infantry Division's 3d Brigade Combat Team, where it has been assigned since the Vietnam War. Ar Fort Hood it will be the First Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team. At Joint Base Lewis-McChord it will be the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, part of the 7th Infantry Division.

At Fort Stewart, just an hour or so down the interstate from me, it is 3d Infantry Division's 2d Armored Brigade Combat Team. Some of the base's loss is offset by other units moving to the base, however. As such, the division's remaining brigades will gain a maneuver battalion and fire and support elements under pending Army restructurings. Additionally, Fort Stewart will gain a Fires Brigade headquarters, a Gray Eagle drone company, a Civil Affairs Battalion, a heavy transport company and a Chemical Maintenance company.

At Fort Riley, my old stomping grounds, the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division is getting the axe. The First Division, the famous Big Red One, is getting a serious one-two punch because their 3rd Brigade Combat Team, housed at Fort Knox in Kentucky, is also getting axed. That cust the division in half until other units move in under restructuring. The two brigades set for reorganization are the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, both located at Fort Riley. As part of the reorganization, each brigade will receive a third maneuver battalion and see an increase in its engineer and artillery capabilities.

Each brigade that gets cut means a loss of around 3,000 soldiers and their families, not to mention civilian employees at the bases associated with the units. The economic impact in the base's communities will be felt sorely until new units move in.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said he was disappointed by the plan to inactivate the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Knox.

“This decision will likely remove nearly 10,000 military employees and dependents from the area, which will have a profound economic impact, not only on Fort Knox but the surrounding region as well,” he said in a prepared statement.

Oh, goody. More unemployed people in a shaky economy.

And with the National Guard shedding 8,000 troops, that's 8,000 people with a reduced income from their Guard drills and 8,000 fewer people on hand to assist their local communities in times of emergencies like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires.

But that's okay. As long as we can send weapons and supplies and aid to people who hate us in Syria or Egypt or Pakistan, and as long as we can keep printing food stammps and welfare checks, it's all good in Obeezy's Hood. It's the Democrat Way.


James Buchanan said...

My god, by the last paragraph I thought you were a liberal.

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

Oh yes, you can hear my support for Obama oozing from every word.