Isle Army division
to undergo expansion

It remains unclear how many
more new soldiers will be added

More changes are in the works for the 25th Infantry Division as the Army begins increasing its major combat brigades to 48 from 33 and alters the way it fights during the next few years.

But Army officials at Fort Shafter said yesterday that it is too early to tell just how many more new soldiers, besides the 810 already planned to beef up Schofield Barracks' new Stryker Combat Brigade, will be sent to the 25th Infantry Division.

The reorganization plan calls for each of the Army's 10 divisions, including the 25th Infantry, to get at least one more brigade. States gaining troops include New York, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Washington, Alaska, North Carolina and Kansas.

"We are going through a transition period," said Army spokeswoman Mary Markovinovic at Fort Shafter, "and a lot will be determined as we go along."

The 25th Infantry Division, with 10,500 soldiers, now has three combat infantry brigades and one aviation brigade. However, its 1st Brigade is located at Fort Lewis, Wash.

The Army has outlined the temporary designation of two brigades to the 25th Division, Markovinovic added. Each will consist of 3,400 soldiers.

One of the brigades will be based at Fort Riley, Kan., and the other will be at Fort Benning, Ga., she said.

"At this point we don't know if they will come under the operational control of the 25th Division," Markovinovic added.

The Army said an infantry brigade at Schofield typically has about 1,800 soldiers, but it can grow as large as 4,000 to fit mission needs, as was done with the units sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the two units in Hawaii -- the 2nd Brigade, now fighting in Iraq until March -- is already slated to grow to 3,600 soldiers when it is converted to the Army's fifth Stryker Combat Brigade in 2007. The unit will be built around 290 of these multipurpose vehicles.

This weekend, the Army plans to roll out two of these 19-ton, eight-wheeled Stryker combat vehicles at public displays on the Big Island in Waimea today and Hilo tomorrow. Oahu displays are planned next week for the North Shore, Wahiawa and Waianae.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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