Leadership: August 23, 2002

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In the wake of Gulf War disputes over the effectiveness of National Guard combat units, the U.S. Army established Enhanced Brigades in 1993. These fifteen infantry, tank and artillery brigades were meant as a backup for active Army units during wartime. These brigades receive more training, personnel and equipment than other National Guard units. Enhanced Brigades are supposed to be ready for deployment within 90 days. The brigades trained hard through the 1990s and scored higher and higher in their readiness tests each year. Although often short of men because of recruiting problems (a strong economy and declining interest in the military), the Enhanced Brigades continually increased their combat readiness. It was also discovered, to no one's surprise, that the Enhanced Brigades were better at peacekeeping missions (because the National Guards troops were older than active duty troops and spent most of their time as civilians.) But getting activated for peacekeeping duty was not popular with these reserve troops. They signed on to be activated for war, not peacekeeping. Then came September 11, 2001, and the decision to lock down military bases. Except during World War II, most U.S. military bases were pretty wide open. Now they were to be made a lot more "secure." This required thousands of additional troops for "gate guard" duty. Naturally, reserve and National Guard troops were called up for this. Again, the Enhanced Brigades were favored, because they were the best trained and led. But the troops in the Enhanced Brigades were getting discouraged. They joined these brigades for the chance to train long and hard for war, not peacekeeping and permanent guard duty. The discontent is bubbling up, and the brass are beginning to notice fewer enlistments, or re-enlistments. Whether the generals can come up with a solution is another matter entirely.



 


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