Leadership: December 9, 2003

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The heavy demands on the U.S. Army, with troops deployed in many combat zones (Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq), has triggered a move to change organization and doctrine (how the troops fight). The 33 combat brigades are to be reorganized into 48 smaller brigades. This is because currently 20 of the armys 33 brigades are overseas. This does not allow the troops back in the states sufficient time to train and be ready for other types of combat. The 48 smaller (two combat battalions instead of three) brigades will rely more on battlefield Internet techniques and new technology (UAVs and sensors) to do the same work as the larger brigades. Noting poor performance in combat by support troops in Iraq, the army is going back the old policy (which the marines never abandoned), of every soldier being prepared to fight as infantry. This means more basic training for the support troops (who make up 85 percent of the army), and hours of additional training per month thereafter. Officers and NCOs will receive more combat training as well. Combat and support troops will received training on more types of weapons. Brigades will become the basic maneuver units for the army, with support functions handled by the division. The 3rd Infantry and 101st Airborne divisions will be converted to the new organization in 2004 and be used to test the new ideas. The army will also put its own air and artillery controllers in each platoon, which will require some negotiation and head butting with the air force. Many of the new ideas had been planned for introduction over the next few decades. Instead, the changes will come over the next few years. There will be more wireless networks on the battlefield, more robotic vehicles (mini-UAVs and small vehicles to carry ammo and equipment.) Training will be improved to include more computer simulations. Lots of new ideas will be tried out and quickly rejected or adopted. All this is in line with the Department of Defense transformation effort.

 


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