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Fort Bliss will house U.S. Army’s new armored brigade combat team

Col. Heyward G. Hutson, DIVARTY commander, returns a salute to the DIVARTY color guard as they pass during the "pass in review" of the re-flagging of 212th Fires Brigade to 1st AD DIVARTY ceremony July 23, 2014, at the 1st AD parade field at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Sgt. Larry B. Barnhill/U.S. Army)

AUSTIN — The U.S. Army on Thursday announced that Fort Bliss will house the nation’s 16th armored brigade combat team, as part of the Army’s realignment of combat forces.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss will be converted from a Stryker brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team to ensure Army operations are in line with the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

A Stryker brigade combat team is focused on maneuverability and relies heavily on infantry soldiers, although it is more heavily armored than an infantry brigade combat team. Armored brigade combat teams include heavier equipment and firepower, including M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.

“Converting a brigade combat team from infantry to armor ensures the Army remains the world’s most lethal ground combat force, able to deploy, fight, and win against any adversary, any time and anywhere,” Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper said in a statement.

The Army will also convert the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado, from an infantry brigade combat team to a Stryker brigade combat team.

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The Stryker brigade combat team at Fort Bliss will ship its equipment to the new team at Fort Carson and armored tanks and other supplies will be brought to El Paso from several different sources.

Conversion of the team at Fort Bliss will start in the spring of 2019.

Maj. Gen. Patrick E. Matlock applauded Thursday’s announcement and said it reaffirms the 1st Armored Division’s important role in national security.

“Fort Bliss has the proper facilities, space and personnel to support this conversion,” he said in a statement. “Fort Bliss is the best place to train armored formations and build better readiness for the Army.”

In his first State of the Military address last month, Matlock said Fort Bliss is in a good position as the U.S. military looks to modernize in response to evolving threats.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz asked the Army in May to relocate the new armored brigade combat team in considerations to one of two posts in Texas — Fort Bliss or Fort Hood.

They submitted a letter to the U.S. Army Environmental Command during a public comment period, asking that the Army select a Texas location over the other options in consideration, which included Fort Carson, Fort Riley in Kansas and Fort Stewart in Georgia.

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“This conversion makes Texas the world leader for armored units,” Cornyn said in a statement, pointing to both Fort Bliss and Fort Hood as examples. “El Paso will serve as a capable host to this new unit, and I welcome this influx of resources for our soldiers at Fort Bliss.”

Cruz also celebrated the decision and said it demonstrates the significance of Texas to defense efforts.

“The Army’s continued expansion in Texas reinforces the state’s position as a pillar in America’s national security and defense, while creating new opportunities in our state,” Cruz said in a statement.

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© 2018 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.