Army Transformation Drives Biggest Change Since 1939
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2005 Fighting the war against global terrorism while simultaneously transforming itself to confront 21st-century threats is challenging the Army, a top military officer told U.S. House members here Feb. 3.
The U.S. Army is in the midst of its greatest transformation since the period just before America's entry into World War II, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody noted in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.
"This is the most significant change of your Army since 1939," Cody told committee members.
The Army is now transforming its Cold War-era, heavy-division structure into a more mobile, brigade-oriented force equipped with the Stryker armored vehicle. Cody said the Army plans to establish 43 of these new modular brigades.
In fact, Cody noted, the Army's first modular brigade, from the 3rd Infantry Division, is starting to deploy to Iraq. The 101st Airborne and 10th Mountain divisions also are undergoing transformation, he said.
The Army's recently granted request to temporarily add 30,000 soldiers to the ranks was made, Cody observed, "so we can prime the pump, restructure the Army while it's moving and get it out of its Cold War structure."
Today, more than 300,000 soldiers are serving overseas in 120 countries, Cody noted, including 116,000 soldiers deployed in Iraq and 14,000 in Afghanistan.
Cody said about 650,000 soldiers are on active duty today, including mobilized Guard and Reserve members. However, he explained, there's a force-imbalance involving combat support and combat-service-support-units, of which 60 percent are now in the Guard and Reserve.
That imbalance, he said, is making transformation more difficult to achieve and causing force-rotation planners to pull out their hair.
"Until we can get our Army fully modularized so that we can restructure the combat support and combat-service support and lower the amount of units we have," Cody explained, "we are going to have stress on the force."
Consequently, the active-duty Army has been reducing its logistics, field artillery, air defense, engineer and armor units, Cody said, while increasing the numbers of low-density, high-demand support troops, such as military police, intelligence, civil affairs, psychological operations, in order to round out its new brigade-structured units.
"All of this is part of modularity," Cody explained, noting "we've been able to change 40,000 slots in two and a half years while we've been at war to make these new formations."