The U.S. Senate yesterday passed the annual defense authorization bill, with a provision by Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan requiring an “Arctic Operation Plan.” The O-PLAN is a key part of Sullivan’s effort to stave off the Army’s announced cut of thousands of troops from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Sullivan argues the Pentagon can’t make the JBER cuts before it has a plan to identify which assets it needs to defend the region.
Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, an Army spokesman, says the chief of staff of the Army will review the Arctic Operation Plan, once it is complete, and it will “help inform how and if” the troop reduction will take place. In the meantime, he says, the plan to cut troops from JBER has not changed.
“It’s inaccurate to say the plan is ‘on hold,'” Buccino said in a telephone interview today. But, he added, they aren’t taking place yet, nor were they scheduled to. The cuts, when announced this summer, were to take place over the next two years.
“Certainly, the plan to transform the 4-25 from a brigade to a battalion is under review,” Buccino said in a later phone call.
The White House has issued a veto threat for the defense bill, part of a larger budget dispute with Republicans in Congress.