Sullivan says JBER troop cut not reversed yet

IMG_463966578The battle to keep the 425 Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson may seem all but won. The top uniformed officer of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley, said at a hearing last month he wants to postpone the troop cut for at least a year, citing national security interests.

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But Sen. Dan Sullivan says it’s not a done deal yet. He is still talking about the value of the 425 at hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to build support.

“We’ve been working this issue for well over a year now. But now we’re not working against the Army. We’re working with the Army,” he said.

He’s pressing the military’s area commanders, the general in charge of U.S. forces in Europe, the general responsible for the Middle East, and the admiral responsible for the Pacific.

“At all of those hearings, I asked them, ‘Hey, Gen. Milley is now reversing this decision. Do you support that?’” Sullivan said. “And importantly … every single one of the combatant commanders who are important to the 425 said yes.They support it strongly.”

The decision is up to the secretary of the Army. Right now there’s an acting secretary, who seemed willing to defer to Gen. Milley’s view. It’s not clear, though, whether he’ll make the call. Sullivan, in an interview last week, said he’s also working on Eric Fanning, the man nominated to be the next secretary of the Army.

“I have a phone call with him today to kind of finalize a couple commitments that he and I have talked about, with regard to the 425,” he said.

Sullivan also said he’d previously placed a hold on Fanning’s confirmation, blocking him from getting a Senate vote. He said he intended to release it soon.

At least one other senator put a hold on Fanning, though, for unrelated reasons.

Sullivan has also been a general critic of the plan to cut 40,000 soldiers, to bring the Army down to 450,000 troops.