The US Army is reducing the number of assets and personnel permanently assigned to its only European-based Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), adopting instead ‘continuous rotational’ deployments, it was announced on 29 April.
The 12th CAB in Germany, along with its subordinate units, is to lose 24 Boeing AH-64 Apaches, 30 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks (plus nine HH-60 medical evacuation [MEDEVAC] platforms), and three Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters. In addition, it is losing the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout fleet which is being divested from the US Army.
Further to the asset reductions, the 12th CAB will lose 1,900 personnel under the restructuring. Once this is complete at the end of the third quarter of 2016, the brigade will have 1,300 servicemen and women assigned to it, of which about 800 will be stationed in Germany and 500 will be rotational.
According to the Department of Defense (DoD), the 12th CAB is being ‘streamlined and modernised’ under the US Army’s Aviation Restructuring Initiative. This is being done to ensure that it can “address current and future challenges in the most effective and sustainable way possible”.
While this restructuring will mean that some personnel and assets will no longer be permanently assigned to the brigade’s headquarters in Ansbach, aviation capabilities will be maintained by augmenting remaining aviation assets and personnel through a continuous rotation. A unit rotation will last for nine months, and there will be no gap between rotations.
“The net result of this restructuring is that army aviation assets in Europe will be more ready, present, and operationally flexible. This is particularly important in the current strategic environment,” the DoD said in an article posted on its website.
To complement the restructured 12th CAB, the army is providing a rotational presence of an assault helicopter battalion, two MEDEVAC teams, and an Air Traffic Service Company. These will support Operation ‘Atlantic Resolve’, and major training exercises in Central and Eastern Europe.
The 12th CAB is one of 18 commands that make up the US Army in Europe (USAREUR), with the others being the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Stryker Brigade Combat Team [BCT]); 173rd Infantry BCT (Airborne); 7th Civil Support Command; 10th Army Air & Missile Defense Command; 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment; 21st Theater Sustainment Command; 409th Contracting Support Brigade; 16th Sustainment Brigade; 18th Military Police Brigade; 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command; US Army NATO Brigade; 30th Medical Brigade; Multinational Battle Group East; 5th Signal Command; 66th Military Intelligence Group; Installation Management Command-Europe ; and the Europe Regional Medical Command. With the exception of the 173rd Infantry BCT (Airborne), which is located in Italy, and the Multinational Battle Group East in Kosovo, all of these commands are headquarted in Germany.
Currently, there are about 29,000 personnel assigned to USAREUR, which is significantly less than the Cold War peak of over 210,000.[www.DefenceNews.in]