The 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade likely will be deactivated up to two years earlier than previously announced.
The movement of units and equipment will start next summer, Brig. Gen. John Hort, 3rd ID commanding general-rear, said Tuesday.
“And by January ’15, we believe, based on the current timeline, we will inactivate the 2nd Brigade,” he said.
He qualified the statement some, saying the start of 2015 is the middle of a window during which the unit will be disbanded.
Hort was speaking at what was supposed to be a meeting of the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield Growth Management Partnership. A quorum did not attend the meeting, but those present asked that Hort make his presentation.
In June, the Pentagon announced the largest organizational change for the Army since World War II, cutting troop strength from 570,000 to 490,000 and the number of brigade combat teams from 45 to 33. All that was to be done by 2017.
Hort, however, said he understands the plan is being accelerated Army-wide to assure the remaining troops have the resources to train as much as possible under budget constraints.
A brigade normally has 3,000-3,500 soldiers. Because of the restructuring of remaining brigades and addition of other units to Fort Stewart, the troop loss here is expected to be around 1,400.
Hort and Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, himself a retired Army officer and civil-service employee, said they doubted the community would notice much difference in troop number because more than a decade of deployment rotations for the division and its units to Iraq and Afghanistan is supposed to be ending this winter.
“On the whole, the net-sum game to the Hinesville community will actually be an increase,” the general said, estimating that when current redeployments end next month there will be 2,700-3,000 3rd ID troops still in Afghanistan who should redeploy by the middle of December.
And, he emphasized, he sees little chance of more large-scale deployments in the next few years.
Hort said the deactivation of the 2nd will not be like a private-industry layoff, when 1,400 workers are told they’ll be out of a job at a given time. Over the next year, he said, recruiting numbers will be cut, some soldiers will be asked to leave early because of their performance or fitness, and units will be transferred between duties and stations.
“Essentially, you’ll see a lot of moving pieces,” he said.