The US Army is undergoing its largest expansion since the Cold War. Ten new combat brigades and 30,000 troops will increase the number of troops to 510,000 by 2007. The basic 10-division structure will be retained, but an extra brigade will be added to the old 3 brigade triangular division, the standard since World War II. The division itself will remain the same size, but non-essential personnel will move to the brigade, now called a Unit of Action. Ten air defense battalions are being discarded, along with division support elements with intelligence, engineer, and supply going to the brigade
Americas land forces are stretched thin with the War on Terror, and combat is at a pace unseen in decades. This has brought about the latest change, something nearly impossible in a peacetime army. Meanwhile 130,000 troops in Iraq are being redeployed, replaced with a smaller force of 80,000. This unprecedented transfer will involve 8 of the Armys 10 active divisions.
Since its return from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart Georgia has been a test-bed for the new structure. This year the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell Kentucky, with its 18,0000 troops, will reorganize into 4 brigades. In all the Army will increase to 48 brigades, now called Units of Action, from its present 33.The National Guard is being affected as well, and will swell from 15 to 22 brigades.
As welcome as the new troops will be to long suffering oversea units, many insist the plan doesnt go far enough. Already a proposal is before Congress for an increase to 12 divisions. Whether this happens is uncertain, it is obvious the Army is taking its hard won combat lessons to heart to bring about renewal. --Mike Burleson