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ARLINGTON, Va. — Two brigade combat teams slated to move to the United States will remain in Germany until at least 2012, service leaders announced Wednesday.

The Army has received permission from President Bush to delay the relocation of the Schweinfurt-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and the Baumholder-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

The two brigades also will be reorganized and reflagged as “heavy brigade combat teams,” Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard Cody told Pentagon reporters.

In fiscal 2012, one of the heavy brigade combat teams will be permanently relocated back in the United States, at Fort Bliss, Texas, he said.

The following year, fiscal 2013, the other unit will go to White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Which will go where has yet to be determined, Cody said.

For soldiers and their families who are currently members of the 1st Infantry or the 1st Armored, today’s announcement means that “if you’re there now, you’ll probably rotate out on time,” Cody said.

Cody discussed the two Germany units during a briefing announcing the Army’s new unit stationing plans to accommodate 74,200 additional soldiers across all three components — active, Guard and Reserve.

U.S. Army Europe leaders had just received the announcement and had yet to evaluate its impact on U.S. Army Europe and its mission, Lt. Col. Richard W. Spiegel, a U.S. Army Europe spokesman, said in a written statement Wednesday.

But overall, the leaders support the decision, Spiegel said.

“Retaining two brigade combat teams gives the USAREUR commander increased capability and flexibility to continue providing the best trained and ready forces to the war on terror as well as supporting the EUCOM commander’s theater security cooperation missions, which is vital to building and maintaining alliances and partnerships in our area of responsibility,” Spiegel said.

Gen. John Craddock, the top U.S. military commander in Europe, has repeatedly said he hoped Defense Secretary Robert Gates would halt the ongoing drawdown of Europe-based troops to the continental United States.

In June, Craddock offered Gates a troop-to-task analysis he had conducted to determine future troop needs in Europe that recommended such a halt.

Shortly after taking command of the U.S. European Command and NATO’s military forces last December, Craddock, who is also the supreme allied commander Europe, expressed concern that he did not have enough Europe-based forces to conduct ample bilateral and multilateral military engagements with U.S. allies.

The 1st Infantry Division was moved from Würzburg, Germany, to Fort Riley, Kan., in 2006 as part of a reduction in Army forces from 62,000 to about 43,000 in the past three years. Multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq have also lessened the ability of Europe-based troops to train with European allies.

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