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Ft. Eustis to lose 333 positions as Army downsizes

Brock Vergakis, Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- Fort Eustis says it will lose nearly eight percent of its military workforce as a result of a massive restructuring taking place throughout Army.

The Army post in Newport News will lose 333 positions over the next several years as the 7th Sustainment Brigade transforms into the 7th Transportation Brigade, an expeditionary force. The cuts are part of a longtime plan to reduce the size of the service by 80,000 soldiers, or about 14 percent of the active duty force, by 2017.

The 7th Sustainment's Brigade is sometimes referred to as the "Army's Navy" because it has dozens of ships that supports all branches of the service by moving troops and equipment. Fort Eustis is located on the James River in southeastern Virginia, which also is home to several Navy bases.

The 7th Transportation Brigade will focus on supporting areas without existing infrastructure for shorter periods of time. Other units will provide additional sustainment capabilities, if needed.

"The brigade will morph over time to better meet the future Army need," Lt. Col. Douglas Pietrowski, deputy commanding officer of 7th Sustainment Brigade, said in a statement. "It's about getting the right structure to perform our primary mission."

Army leaders have also said they will slash the number of active duty combat brigades from 45 to 33. Those cuts are occurring at ten other bases and do not affect National Guard or Reserve units. Fort Eustis does not have any combat brigades stationed there.

Under the plan announced Tuesday, the Army will increase the size of its infantry and armor brigades by adding another battalion, which is between 600 and 800 soldiers. Adding the battalion was a recommendation from commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan who said it would beef up the fighting capabilities of the brigades when they go to war.

The overall cut in size has been known for more than a year, and Army leaders have been working on how to manage the reduction, conducting local community meetings across the country and releasing an extensive study on the issue earlier this year.

A community listening session was held April 30 at Fort Eustis to gather comments from political leaders and the public for the Army to consider.

In a statement, Maj. Gen. Bradley W. May, senior commander of Army Element Eustis, says the number of job losses at Fort Eustis is about what he expected the base to lose.


Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis