Balkans: August 15, 2000

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The Army has come up with a new scheme to provide peacekeeping troops to the Balkans, and the idea shows the drain that the job is placing on the Army. Instead of tasking a division to provide a brigade to Kosovo or Bosnia, a corps will provide both brigades for one year. The first year will go to the XVIII Airborne Corps, the second year to the V Corps in Europe, and then the job will pass to the III Corps and I Corps. Each Corps will have to provide two brigades to the Balkans, and replace them after six months, meaning that the corps will be sending four of its brigades to the Balkans during its year of duty. Since training for peacekeeping takes a year and retraining a unit returning from peacekeeping takes another year, this will in effect take these four brigades out of the warfighting strength for three years. (During any given year, 12 brigades will be unavailable for war due to peacekeeping in the Balkans.) But it gets worse. The plan is for each corps to form provisional brigades by taking battalions from several different brigades. This will, in effect, mean that the entire US Army will lack combat ready brigades. A simpler solution would have been to give the entire mission to the 10th Mountain Division permanently, with two of its brigades in the Balkans and the rest of the division in New York training new soldiers for the mission. Recruits could sign up for peacekeeping duty, and cycle through the 10th Mountain and Bosnia during their tours. This would keep the rest of the Army ready for its mission of fighting wars.--Stephen V Cole 

 

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