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Brigade Unit of Action

On January 28, 2004, Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, briefed the House Armed Services Committee on plans to restructure the Army's current organization which retains the 10 division headquarters as battle command headquarters. The Army would increase the number of brigades under those divisions from three maneuver brigades to four. That alone would take the service from 30 brigades under the division structure to 40 (plus two armored cavalry regiments and the 173rd Airborne Brigade) by FY 2007.

In this hearing, Schoomaker further said "We also, as you know, have made the decision to go forward with Stryker. That gives us five Stryker brigades within the active structure. It also gives us two airborne brigades and an armored cavalry regiment. One of the armored cavalry regiments, the 2nd Light Armored Cavalry Regiment, is designated to become one of the Strykers, so it's included in those numbers. So that moves us from 33 current active brigades under 10 division headquarters to a force of 48 active brigades."

General George W. Casey, Jr., the Army Vice Chief of Staff, before the House Armed Services Committee on March 11, 2004 stated that during the same time period [2004-2007], Army National Guard Brigades will reorganize into 34 brigade-size units using the same modular design as the Active Component. Lt General Roger C. Schultz, the Director of the Army National Guard, in testimony before Senate Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee on April 7, 2004 indicated that the 34 brigade combat teams would be organized under 8 divisions. As of early 2004, the Army Guard consisted of 28 brigades organized into ten divisions, along with ten Enhanced Separate Brigades and six other Separate Brigades, for a total of 44 maneuver brigades. Prior to the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review [QDR], 12 of the Army National Guard's 40 brigades were scheduled to change from combat to combat support capability.

The Army normally deployed forces in 2,500 to 4,200-soldier Brigade Combat Teams. These consist of a ground-maneuver brigade (most divisions have three) augmented by other units, such as artillery battalions, which are controlled by the division commander.

The new "brigade based" structure will replace the current arrangement, designed for the Cold War when the Army was prepared to fight giant set-piece battles on European soil, where the support roles were organized at the division level. It will improve the deployment ratio so that there can be two brigades at home for every one deployed overseas.

Brigade combat teams will be restructured into Brigade Units of Action. Once transitioned, BUAs will enable greater capacity for rapid packaging and responsive and sustained employment to support combatant commanders. BUAs will also enhance the expeditionary and campaign qualities of Army forces by better enabling Joint/coalition operations. The transition to BUAs will also increase the brigade-equivalent forces available to meet both enduring and emerging mission requirements.

Within the force the Army will have formations that are leaner, that rely on Joint force capabilities and that rely on information. The Army is going to build these future force teams around a combat team, and is not going to wait until 2010. The Army began this change in 2004 (with) a movement to brigade combat teams where the brigade commander will have everything he needs to execute the operation. The brigade combat team will all be packaged within one team - formed that way, packaged that way - and will deploy as an entity, not as a number of small units pulled together when the flag goes up.

The restructuring would leave a division with three types of brigades: heavy, with armor; light, with motorized infantry, and airborne. This new Brigade Units of Action is different from the Units of Action the Army is forming to achieve the Future Combat Systems [FCS]. The FCS first unit equipped (FUE)-one battalion equivalent-in 2008 and an initial operating capability of one brigade Unit of Action (UoA) in 2010.

Growing the fourth includes taking much of the division-level support elements -- such as engineers, military intelligence, supply and maintenance units -- and making them organic to the brigade structure.

The service will move some enabling resources - such as air defense, signal and intelligence - to the brigade level. Each brigade unit of action will have one fewer company-size element and less artillerymen. However, it will have more military policemen, better command and control assets to talk to each other over long distances, and more certified troops to call in close air support. The brigade unit of action will have enough command and control capability to operate independently. This pushes support roles down to the brigade level. It takes the support brigades -- those that do artillery, supply and maintenance, for the most part -- and sprinkle their personnel across the Brigade.

The previous Force XXI support concept was based on centralizing transportation assets for increased productivity and greater efficiency. Transportation assets were taken out of the maneuver battalions and consolidated at higher echelons (FSB and DSB). This allowed the DISCOM commander to shift transportation assets to meet the logistics requirements of the battle. The echeloned system, however, diminished the advantages of centralization because the required handoffs at each echelon often caused delays.

The new modular design places transport back in the maneuver BCT, except for the heavy equipment transporter system (HETS). Under this arrangement, the maneuver brigade commander will have greater control and the BCT will be 100-percent mobile. The design calls for one combat load on the combat platform, one in the FSC, and one in the BSB. The requirement to move loose cargo also will be reduced by using a palletized load system (PLS) or heavy, expanded mobility, tactical truck load handling system (HEMTT LHS) design. Forty-six of the 48 trucks in the heavy maneuver BCT will use the container roll-in-roll-out platform with either the PLS or HEMTT LHS. In the infantry maneuver BCT, mobility will be increased by providing lift for one company in each battalion or one battalion in each brigade.

The 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., moved to four brigades as the Army's modularity test bed shortly after it returned from Iraq in 2003. The Army plans to stand up an additional two division brigades within a year and grow from 33 active-duty brigade combat teams to 48 by 2007. The first newly formed brigade unit of action were trained at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin Calif., in March 2004.

The Army implemented a new online feature to facilitate the recruitment of soldiers for the Units of Action on May 1, 2004. U.S. Army Human Resources Command, formerly Personnel Command, spent nearly five months developing the Personnel Lifecycle Unit Selection System, known as PLUS2. It was designed to reduce non-volunteer permanent-change-of-station moves and provide an easy method of requesting assignments. The 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum and the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, will be the first units to use PLUS2. The 3rd Infantry Division, based in Georgia, is already transforming into various units of action. Next in line to use PLUS2 will be select elements of 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:35:02 ZULU