The Army has decided to scrap plans to add brigade combat teams to three stateside bases, Army Secretary Pete Geren announced Tuesday, delivering a financial blow to the communities set to house those units.

Announced in 2007, the new units — known as BCTs — were planned for Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Carson, Colo.; and Fort Stewart, Ga., as part of an Army plan to increase its total number of brigades from 43 to 48. Each brigade has between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers.

The Army’s 2007 proposal would have added five brigades as part of the Army’s plan to grow by 65,000 active-duty soldiers. It reached that goal — 574,000 total soldiers — earlier this year. Then in April, Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed a plan to trim defense spending that called for scaling back the expansion to just 45 brigades. In Washington, Geren said the Army had decided to back Gates’ recommendation for President Barack Obama’s budget.

Geren’s announcement also affects two brigade combat teams in Germany — the Grafenwöhr-based 172nd Infantry Brigade and the Baumholder-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division — but in name only, according to an Army official. The 172nd is scheduled to become the 7th Brigade, 1st AD. The 2nd Brigade will be re-established as 170th Armored Brigade and later the 5th Brigade, 1st AD, according to Lt. Col. Lee Packnett, an Army spokesman.

Originally, those two units were scheduled to moved back to the States. A decision was made in December 2007 to keep the two brigades in Germany for the near future. Gen. John Craddock, the top U.S. military commander in Europe, had repeatedly expressed concern that he did not have enough Europe-based forces to conduct ample bilateral and multilateral military engagements with U.S. allies. He repeatedly said he hoped Gates would halt the ongoing drawdown of Europe-based troops to the continental United States.

Decisions on the two brigades have been put on hold pending completion of an ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review, Packnett said.

While the decision not to add the brigades does not affect the end-strength, it does impact communities near the three Army posts.

An El Paso economic development official told the El Paso Times the loss of the BCT will cost the city about $800 million a year.

With the cutback, about 3,450 fewer soldiers will be at the post, said Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt. Relatives of these soldiers would have accounted for approximately 4,600 other people contributing to El Paso’s economy, officials estimate.

The Associated Press reported that news that a brigade wasn’t coming disappointed the mayor of Hinesville, a southeast Georgia city that had expected an influx of about 4,000 new soldiers at neighboring Fort Stewart.

"You can’t hang a small community like ours out to dry without having consequences," Mayor Jim Thomas told the AP.

Colorado Rep. Bob Gardner, whose district is adjacent to Fort Carson, called the announcement a "significant loss to the economic health of the community."

"Fort Carson is already one of the top employers in all of Colorado. It’s a loss not only to Colorado Springs, but the state as a whole," he told the AP.

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