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Unit Manning

The force stabilization initiative consists of two complementary policies: unit-focused stability and home basing. Under home basing, Soldiers will remain at their initial installation for six to seven years -- well beyond the current three-year average. Unit-focused stability will allow Soldiers to arrive, train and serve together for roughly 36 months, enhancing unit cohesion, training effectiveness and readiness. During the unit's operational cycle, Soldiers can expect to complete an operational deployment rotation of six to 12 months. Overall, with force stabilization, units will have more reliable training and deployment schedules, and Soldiers and families will get a greater sense of predictability.

In his book "The Path to Victory: America's Army and the Revolution in Human Affairs," Maj. Donald Vandergriff suggested dumping the Army's Individual Replacement System in favor of a "Unit Manning" policy that keeps troops within the same brigade for perhaps an entire career. The Army is using some of Vandergriff's concepts, in what the service has dubbed the "Unit Manning Initiative." Under the Unit Manning Initiative, there will be groups of people who will arrive together as a unit and train together day-to-day through a standard 36-month tour. And part of that 36-month tour will be rotations into overseas assignments.

In late 2002 Army Secretary Thomas White pinpointed unit manning as a possible solution to revamping the Army's personnel system. He believed that individual management is disruptive and counter to unit cohesiveness and morale. In September 2002, White tasked Lt. Gen. John LeMoyne, the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, to produce a fast-track study on unit manning. The study was completed in January 2003. LeMoyne then appointed Brig. Gen. Sean Byrne, who is director of the Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate, to lead the unit manning task force

This changes the Army's manning policy -- the Individual Replacement System -- where individual soldiers come and go in and out of units throughout the year. With the current individual replacement system, you constantly have new people come into the unit as others leave on a monthly basis - requiring constant retraining of individual and collective tasks to get the new soldiers up to speed.

The Army has a lot of experience in unit rotations and unit manning or cohort manning. The Army ran unit rotations into Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Sinai. The Army has a lot more experience at brigade-level types of rotations with a one-year shot clock on it. This is not a simple thing to get on with. The Army has had a lot of false starts over the years, Brigade 75 for example. The Army had Gyroscope units into Germany in the '50s and early '60s. Gyroscope was a half-hearted attempt to create unit cohesion, since the Army did not change personnel policies focused on the individual.

The most recent, a program that ran through the 1980s called COHORT - Cohesion, Operations, Readiness and Training - kept soldiers together in the same battalion through basic and advanced training and into the first three years of their enlistment, which included a rotation to Europe or South Korea. One of the reasons COHORT failed is that the soldiers stayed in the same unit, but the leaders kept coming and going.

So there have been lots of false starts where the Army tried this for a while and it hasn't worked out or there was not the conviction that it was the right thing to do.

Take Korea, for example. With units in South Korea individuals rather than entire units rotate through on one-year hardship tours. The ripple effect of rotating 27,000 soldiers through Korea on, for the vast majority, 12-month tours, has an enormous effect on the rest of the Army. Consequently, if there was some other way to do that that's accessible to the CINC and is consistent with warfighting requirements.

The Air Force went through a wrenching period in the 1990s adopting the air expeditionary force that mirrored the Navy and Marine Corps concept of rotational forces. The Army is the one service that has yet to embrace that pattern.

The Army is using the "Unit Manning Initiative" - to man its new Stryker brigades, beginning with the third unit, which is being built around the 172nd Infantry Brigade in Alaska.

The Unit Manning Task Force has identified approximately 175 different policies as being potentially impacted by the concepts of Unit Manning at some level. Detailed analysis is on-going to determine the level of impact and the appropriate changes necessary to support units, personnel and the Army. As changes to these policies are developed, staffed and coordinated, the approved solutions will be posted here.



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