Bush OKs biggest realignment of troops since World War II

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has approved what officials are describing as the most significant realignment of the Army since World War II, signing off on a plan that will keep more troops than previously envisioned in Europe and add large numbers of soldiers to posts in Colorado, Georgia and Texas, Army officials said yesterday.

The basing plan is the final step in a detailed program for deciding where a larger Army will live and train in the years ahead, as it grows by 65,000 active-duty soldiers. It significantly changes the military's footprint from before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and alters a global basing plan adopted with fanfare by the Pentagon in 2004.

The revised plan freezes previous orders for rapidly reducing Army forces in Europe by two heavy brigades scheduled to come home from Germany at least two years sooner than under the new program. Now, one brigade will remain in Germany until 2012 and the other until 2013.

Even after the return of the two brigades, two others will remain in Europe, one in Germany and one in Italy, along with a large contingent of service and support personnel. Altogether, the Army will maintain more than 37,000 troops in Europe.

The full basing plan for the United States, Europe and South Korea was presented to Bush on Monday. It was driven by Bush's approval to expand the Army by 74,000, including the Reserves, to meet the needs in Iraq and Afghanistan and prepare for future threats.

Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Fort Bliss, Texas, will each receive two additional combat brigades. Additional support brigades will be based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Lewis, Wash.; and Fort Polk, La.

"The Army is undergoing the largest transformational change since 1942," said Gen. Richard Cody, the Army vice chief of staff.

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