Despite major combat operations in
Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army is going through a major reorganization.
The end result will increase the number of combat brigades from 33 to 43. This required the transfer of over 40,000 people
from combat-support jobs to the combat brigades. New equipment for each of the
"reset" units costs over half a billion dollars per brigade. Most of
this reset is complete, with all the new brigades ready for service in two years.
process has included repairing and rebuilding the weapons and equipment that
were used in the combat zone. While there was a lot of combat damage, most of
the reset work went for restoring gear that was simply used much more in combat
than it would be in peacetime operations. This has caused some serious
problems, as much of the equipment dates from the 1980s and 1990s, and was due
for replacement after 20-30 years. The rigors of combat has worn out a lot of
that stuff way ahead of schedule. The army is scrambling to develop the next
generation of vehicles, equipment and weapons. A new generation of trucks will
begin to appear in a few years. New weapons and other gear has been introduced
gradually, with the specs of this new stuff driven largely by combat
experience. One problem area is the new generation of armored vehicles. The FCS
(Future Combat System) program envisioned radically new designs for tanks and
infantry vehicles. Some of the original FCS concepts are now being reconsidered
because of how the M-1 tank, M-2 infantry vehicle and Stryker wheeled armored
make the brigades, not the divisions, the primary combat unit. The new brigades
have more support units permanently attached, and can be more easily sent off
to fight by themselves. In the past, doing this involved quickly adding a lot
of support units to the brigade. But the new organization makes small support
units part of the brigades, and, more importantly, the brigades train using
these support units and learns to work well with them. The divisions still
exist, but operate more like the corps has for the last two centuries
(coordinating the actions of a few divisions and only having a few support
units under its command.)
now have four of the new brigades, but can control more (or less) in action.
Each of the new brigades (or BCTs, for Brigade Combat Teams) has 3,500-4,000
troops (depending on type). There are three types of BCTs; light (infantry,
including paratroopers), heavy (mechanized, including tanks) and Stryker
(mechanized using wheeled armored vehicles.) This larger number of combat
brigades is achieved by reorganizing the combat units of each division into
four brigades, instead of the current three. There are several independent
brigades as well.
and equipment (especially satellite based communications and battlefield
Internet software) enable the army to get the same amount of combat power
brigade, using fewer combat troops. The actual number of infantrymen and tanks
won't change, but the number of communications, maintenance and intelligence
support will. For example, increased use of robots, sensors and computerized
vidcam surveillance systems makes it possible to do the same amount of work in
combat, with fewer troops. A lot of these new ideas, and equipment, are being
tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, and most of these items have worked well in combat.
"reform and reorganize on the run" approach has enabled the U.S. Army to leap way ahead of its contemporaries in terms of combat effectiveness. This is causing lots of unease in the military headquarters of the other major military powers.