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Army to reset into modular brigade-centric force

Army News Service

Release Date: 2/24/2004

By Gary Sheftick

Editor's note: This is the seventh article in a series on the Army chief of staff's immediate focus areas. This one updates the ''modularity'' focus area following a media background briefing last week. WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 24, 2004) -- As units return from Iraq, the Army will "reset" brigades into the fighting formations that will be needed in the future, a senior Army official said.

Under Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker's "modularity" focus area, the 33 maneuver brigades in today's active-component Army will be reset into 43 to 48 brigades. The Army will be temporarily "plussed up" by 30,000 troops to fill the added brigades, officials said.

The brigades will be smaller but more lethal, officials said, including artillery and reconnaissance assets previously at the division level. Some corps assets, like aviation and artillery, will move down to the divisions.

The number of divisions will remain at 10 in the active component.

"The worst thing we could have done right now is bring on more divisions," a senior Army official said, explaining that the Army doesn't need more headquarters staff; it needs more maneuver elements.

Each of the 10 divisions will have at least four maneuver brigades (instead of three) by 2006. Then the Army will make a decision if five more maneuver brigades will be added by 2007.

Along with the maneuver brigades, or "units of action," each division will also have an aviation brigade, a maintenance brigade and a "strike" brigade. For instance, a division could have two armored brigades, an infantry brigade, a Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and even a Marine Expeditionary Brigade attached, Army officials said. They said that the division headquarters will be more joint by design and have more potential for "force packaging."

Light infantry and heavy mechanized divisions, mountain divisions and armored divisions -- all will be more similar and modular under the new plan. The seven different types of divisions today will become standardized, officials said, and be known as "units of employment."

In the future, a brigade could be pulled from one division and fit right into another, a senior official said. In fact, he said a future rotation to Iraq might include brigades from five different divisions.

The intent is to create a modular "brigade-based" Army that is more responsive to regional combatant commanders' needs, officials said.

"War always provides you with a much harder look at formations than peace does," the senior Army official said.

The 3rd Infantry Division, which returned from Iraq in September, is serving as the first test bed of the modularity concept. One of its brigades will test the new structure next month at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.

The 101st Airborne Division, which returned last week from Iraq, will be the next to undergo the structure change, officials have announced.

More than 200,000 Soldiers are currently on the move either deploying or redeploying from Southwest Asia.

"We're taking this window of opportunity to restructure forces for where we want to be in the Future Combat System," the senior Army official said.

"We're doing it with the most combat-tested and combat-experienced Army we've ever had," he said. "We have leaders at every level that understand the rigors of combat."

(Editor's note: The Army's 17 immediate areas of focus include: The Soldier; The Bench; Combat Training Centers/Battle Command Training Program; Leader Development and Education; Army Aviation; Current to Future Force; The Network; Modularity; Active Component/Reserve Component Balance; Force Stabilization; Actionable Intelligence; Installations as Flagships; Authorities, Responsibilities, and Accountability; Resource Processes; Strategic Communications; Joint Expeditionary Army with a Campaign-quality Capability; and Logistics. To view a brief synopsis of each area, visit The Way Ahead.)

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