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Army to Restructure -- Will Grow by 30,000 Troops

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Updated January 30, 2004
By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON -- The Army will grow to 510,000 soldiers over the next four years as a temporary measure, a senior Army official said on 29 January (2004).

The official briefed the press on background after Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told Congress Jan. 28 that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has authorized the Army to exceed end strength limits by 30,000. The increase is allowed under emergency authorities Congress granted the Defense Department.

"One of the advantages of being an Army at war is that war focuses us," said the senior Army official.

The focus gives the Army the opportunity to rebalance and reset the forces using the lessons learned from the most recent combat. The Army is putting in place more than 100,000 structural changes, the official said.

The official said the Army has been stressed by worldwide operations against terror, engaged at "a pace unseen since World War II."

In the next four months, the official said, the Army will move 220,000 soldiers into and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, placing significant stress on existing force structure. "The approval we received gives us the chance to implement initiatives aimed at mitigating the stress on the force over time," he said.

The increase gives the service a "cushion" to implement far-reaching changes. The Army will need another 23,000 light infantrymen to fulfill its plans and still maintain current combat effectiveness.

The Army is building the new force around brigade combat teams. This concept takes much of the support now done at division level and pushes it to the brigades. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets – including unmanned aerial vehicles – will be at brigade level.

Fire control will be beefed up and placed at brigades. Maintenance and transportation assets will be at brigades. Each brigade will have its own artillery battalion, and the brigades will contain more infantrymen.

The current setup has a division with three brigades under it. In the future, a division will have four brigade combat teams. The concept operates under the reality that the Army will never work alone, the official said. The Army is one part of a joint team with Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps contributions being made to the combat picture.

One example of this is that divisions will lose their air defense artillery. The official said that the Air Force, Navy Air and Marine Corps Air are "outstanding," and it has been years since an American solider had to worry about being killed by a bomb dropped by an adversary. The air assets will take care of that, and Army assets will be concerned mostly with incoming ballistic and cruise missiles. Air defense artillery units will be cut, and those that remain will be corps-level assets.

The brigades will be more "modular," more lethal and more standardized in the future, the official said.

The changes are not limited to the active component. The current 15 reserve- component-enhanced separate brigades will expand to 22 National Guard brigade combat teams. They will have enhanced training and be able to take their place in the rotation with active duty units.

The divisions do not go away. The current 10 active duty divisions will remain, and will exercise command and control of two or more brigade combat teams. The teams may be interchangeable. If the requirement is for four BCTs operating under a division, two could come from Fort Bragg, N.C., another from Fort Campbell, Ky., and still another could come from Baumholder, Germany.

The Army plans to standardize all six heavy divisions and both lightweight divisions. Even the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) will resemble each other, with the emphasis going on air assault and transportability once landed.

The official said the 3rd Infantry Division already is experimenting with the new setup. He said the division will need some 3,500 more infantrymen to make the system work.

The system has been under development for the past 16 months, the official said. It will run at least through fiscal 2007.

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