Murphy's Law: June 18, 2004

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The U.S. Army is converting all of its combat divisions to a dramatically new type of organization. The army has finally decided on official names for the new units. The old combat brigades are now to be called either Infantry BCT (Brigade Combat Team) or Heavy (with armor) BCT. The new Infantry BCTs  two combat battalions will have three infantry companies and one combat support company (with mortars and other heavy weapons) each, while the heavy BTC's two  battalions will have two tank and two mechanized infantry battalions each.

All thats familiar enough. But the other new names get into strange territory. There are five types of sustainment (support) brigades. These are; Artillery Fires (cannon and rockets), Aviation (helicopters and UAVs), RSTA (Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition, formerly reconnaissance units, but RSTA includes UAVs and intelligence troops as well), Maneuver Enhancement (division headquarters), and Sustainment (the old Division Support Command, but smaller because many support troops are now assigned to brigades) brigades.

Theres no new name for the division yet, but apparently calling it Unit of Execution did not appeal to many in the Pentagon. Actually, calling division headquarters (which actually contains a lot of support troops, particularly communications and intelligence) a Maneuver Enhancement Brigade sounds like a loser and will not survive. Nothing that dumb sounding ever does, at least at the troop level. 

The army plans to eventually (within five years or so) have 43 new brigades on active duty and 34 from the National Guard. These 77 brigades would be controlled by ten active new divisions and eight National Guard ones. The averages out to 4.28 brigades per division. The new division is organized to handle as many as six maneuver brigades, although in a pinch it could handle a few more. Although a decision has not been made yet, it looks like the corps headquarters, a two century old concept, will be discarded. The new divisions will report directly to an army headquarters. This is because one of the goals of the reorganization was to eliminate one level of command, and the corps headquarters seems to be it. 

The new brigade and division organizational details will undergo lots of changes over the next few years. At least one of the new divisions will probably go to Iraq before all American troops are withdrawn from there. The Stryker brigades are, for the moment, keeping their organization because the Stryker brigades were designed along the same lines as the new brigades. 

 


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