Army cuts will be small for Alaska military

Artillerymen with C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division fire an M777 Howitzer during a live-fire exercise held at Fort Wainwright's firing range Aug. 7, 2012.The exercise certified non-commissioned officers on the ability to perform a fire mission with pin point accuracy and was part of the Artillerymen Advanced Leaders Course. (U.S. Army Photo By: Sgt. Thomas Duval, 1/25th SBCT Public Affairs)

Artillerymen with C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division fire an M777 Howitzer during a live-fire exercise held at Fort Wainwright’s firing range Aug. 7, 2012. The exercise certified non-commissioned officers on the ability to perform a fire mission with pin point accuracy and was part of the Artillerymen Advanced Leaders Course. (U.S. Army Photo By: Sgt. Thomas Duval, 1/25th SBCT Public Affairs)

Alaska will lose about 400 soldiers from U.S. Army Alaska operations and the announcement is being portrayed as good news from military officials in the state.

JBER Spokesman John Pennell says Anchorage operations will lose 780 positions but Fort Wainwright will gain 367 for a net loss of around 375 soldiers by the end of 2015.

Pennell says the positions will largely come from cutting smaller units within the 2nd engineer brigade.

“Others will move to different headquarters within U.S. Army Alaska. For instance, the 6th Engineer Battalion, they’re an airborne qualified Engineer Battalion,” Pennell said. “They will move to the 425th airborne brigade combat team and become an engineer battalion within that brigade.”

The cuts were not a surprise; they are part of the 80,000 soldier draw down called for in the Budget Control Act of 2011. But Pennell says if you consider losses in other parts of the nation, Kentucky’s Fort Knox will lose 3800 to 4000 soldiers, an entire brigade combat team, the small cut to Alaska’s military positions is good news. Pennell says the Army values Alaska’s strategic position.

“Not only for the Arctic but also for the entire Pacific theater,” Pennell said. “And so, our two brigade combat teams, one here in Anchorage, the airborne team and one in Fairbanks, the Stryker Brigade team, they are valuable assets in a very strategically valuable location.”

Pennell also stressed that the smaller loss here is a reflection of the strong community support that Alaskans have always shown for the military.

He says mostly positions will not be re-filled as soldiers rotate out or retire. He says there will be some that will have their tours shortened but that will be on a case by case basis.

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