Stryker brigade
will grow by 200

More soldiers will be relocated here
because of the Army's new combat strategy

As many as 200 additional soldiers might call Schofield Barracks home as part of a restructuring plan announced yesterday by the Pentagon.

That brings the number of new soldiers at Schofield to about 1,000, all of them here to join the new Stryker Combat Brigade now under development. The soldiers will join the 3,000-member 2nd Brigade Combat Team at Schofield, said Maj. Stacy Bathrick, 25th Infantry Division spokeswoman.

The 2nd Brigade is being reshaped into a Stryker Combat Brigade, which should be operational by 2007.

The Pentagon also announced that the 25th Division's 3rd Brigade Combat team, which spent last year in Afghanistan, was chosen as one of the Army's new modular units. The change is intended to make the 3rd Brigade more self-sufficient when it deploys, Bathrick added.

The changes are part of the Army's new war strategy, as it moves from divisions -- each numbering about 10,000 soldiers -- to brigades of about 3,500 soldiers. The Pentagon wants smaller brigades that can deploy quickly in areas like Iraq.

Ray DuBois, special assistant to the secretary of the Army, said the number of brigade combat teams in the Army will increase to 43 from 33 and be stationed throughout the United States and Europe.

These brigades will be named Stryker, heavy and light. At Schofield Barracks the 2nd Brigade will be a Stryker-type fighting unit, and the 3rd Brigade will be a more conventional light infantry unit, Bathrick said.

To prepare for the 2nd Brigade's new duties as a Stryker unit, the Army plans to spend nearly $700 million on 28 construction projects at Schofield Barracks and the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area.

The 2nd Brigade will be built around the eight-wheeled, $1.5 million, 19-ton vehicle known as the Stryker. About two dozen are scheduled to arrive at Schofield Barracks in May. Hawaii is expected to house as many as 300 of the versatile Stryker vehicles, which can be outfitted in many different ways depending on their mission.

The Stryker's repercussions will be felt beyond Schofield Barracks. The new units will be supported by a new Air Force-Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 jet transport squadron, which will be stationed at Hickam Air Force Base. Heavy Stryker units need large airplanes to carry them and their troops. A C-17 crew must be prepared to carry a Stryker force anywhere in 96 hours.

State and military officials are expected to travel to Long Beach in late August to observe the progress of the first C-17 designated for the Hickam squadron.

The first soldiers seeking assignment to the Stryker brigade should arrive later this year. By October the 2nd Brigade will grow to more than 3,850 soldiers, and the unit should be operational by May 2007.

The deployment means there will be about another 600 dependents who will move to the islands.

"Schofield Barracks remains one of the Army's premier training, readiness and deployment platforms and will experience substantial net growth when all is said and done," said Brig. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, 25th Infantry Division (Light) assistant division commander.

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