The U.S. Army has released a final Programmatic Environmental Assessment which sets criteria to potentially determine whether the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, will be cut or remain at Fort Benning.
The assessment is part of the Army’s plan to reduce its force from 562,000 to 490,000 soldiers by 2020. To reduce the military’s budget, eight brigades will be deactivated with two coming from units in Europe and others from 21 U.S. installations like Fort Benning with brigade combat teams.
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany and whose 2nd Congressional District includes Fort Benning, said the criteria gives the Army the facts from which to make a decision. “They are announcing what criteria they will be looking for to make a determination for which of the Brigade Combat Teams will be eliminated or consolidated,” Bishop said Friday.
If Fort Benning lost the 3rd Brigade, it would impact 7,100 people, including 3,900 soldiers and about 3,200 civilian workers. On any given day, at least 46,300 personnel work at the military post, including 30,000 active duty soldiers, 12,000 training students and 4,300 civilians.
The Army will consider many factors before a decision is made on the brigades. Included are environmental issues, socioeconomic impact on employment and population, cost, soldier and family quality of life and other factors.
“In order to reduce in strength, they will have to reduce certain units and components,” Bishop said. “That is what this is about, which they will reduce or consolidate to comply with the end result which is a smaller force.”
In a release, Bishop listed installations considered for reduction: The are Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Irwin, Calif.; Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Joint Bast Langley-Eustis, Va.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Lee, Va.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo; Fort Polk, La., Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii and U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. The 3rd Brigade at Fort Benning is not on the list but it is attached to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart.