Begich Responds to Army’s Announcement of Reductions at Military Bases across the U.S.
Despite Reduction of 80,000 Soldiers Nationwide, Ft. Wainwright Receives 522 New Personnel
A plan announced today by the U.S. Army today largely maintains the current number of Army personnel based in Alaska through 2019 despite plans for significant reductions in troops based in the Lower 48. Senator Mark Begich has worked aggressively in recent years to minimize the impacts on Alaska by emphasizing the state’s strategic importance.
The Army’s decision will result in a reduction of 80,000 soldiers nationwide by 2017 and includes the elimination of entire brigades (approximately 3,000 to 4,500 Soldiers) at 10 installations in the Lower 48.
“Today’s decision shows that, despite the national cut of 80,000 troops and ending of two wars, the Army recognizes Alaska’s increasing strategic importance as our defense focus shifts to the Asia-Pacific,” Sen. Begich said. “Despite a small net loss at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), the restructuring in Alaska will enable the 4/25 Airborne Brigade to gain additional combat capabilities because of this decision.”
Earlier this year the Army completed assessments of every Army installation in the country, including Fort Wainwright and JBER, as part of a process used to determine brigades that would be reduced and subsequent impact at the installation. Throughout the process Senator Begich championed the state, highlighting its value for operations and training.
Senator Begich wrote letters and met extensively with Army leadership over the course of the last several years to advocate for maintaining and increasing Army presence in the state. Attached are letters he has sent on this issue.
In Alaska, the Army restructuring will result in an additional 552 Active Duty personnel at Fairbanks’ Fort Wainwright for a total of 6,800 by 2019. The 4/25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson will gain enhanced combat capabilities as part of restructuring but lose 894 unspecified Active Duty military positions as a result of the structural modifications. By 2019, JBER will house about 4,700 Active Duty personnel.