Services, Joint Commands Revamping Operational Tactics
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2004 The military services are making sweeping changes in the way they operate, including what the Pentagon comptroller called "the most revolutionary change in the way the Army has been structured since Napoleon made divisions the central maneuver unit of land forces."
Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim described operational changes being instituted within the services and at joint commands during Jan. 30 and Feb. 2 briefings on the president's proposed fiscal 2005 defense budget. In addition to winning the war on terrorism, the $401.7 billion budget request centers on transforming military capabilities to make the U.S. military more effective and efficient.
Zakheim told Pentagon reporters the Army is introducing a plan to make the brigade not the division the service's primary maneuver unit.
This new concept, championed by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, calls for increasing the number of Army brigades from 33 to 43, and possibly as many as 48. The Army also will increase the number of Army National Guard separate brigades, Zakheim said.
But the DoD comptroller stressed that the plan does not eliminate Army divisions altogether. "Napoleon didn't eliminate corps, and this will not eliminate divisions," he said. Each of the Army's 10 divisions will have four, rather than three, brigades. Each brigade will consist of about 4,000 troops.
The result, Zakheim said, will be a more agile, deployable force that can operate more compatibly with the Marines, Navy and Air Force and will "maximize the fighting power of the Army."
Zakheim said the Navy and Marine Corps are undergoing changes that are "just as radical and revolutionary" as the Army's by implementing the Fleet Response Plan.
This plan, which the chief of naval operations began putting in place at the beginning of fiscal 2004, will increase the ability of major fleet units, particularly carrier battle groups, to respond on very short notice.
Calling the plan "a major, major development," Zakheim said it "essentially gets us away from the paradigm where the Navy was out on fixed deployments" with specific operational requirements. Instead, he said, the new plan will "allow us to get our forces in the field overseas with far more firepower, far more quickly."
Zakheim said the Air Force has been transforming for several years into capabilities-based air and space expeditionary forces.
The Air Force is organized into 10 Air and Space Expeditionary Command Forces. Each consists of several squadrons of fighter and bomber aircraft, transports and tankers. Also included are search and rescue personnel, intelligence, and surveillance and reconnaissance forces, as well as the expeditionary combat support elements necessary to support and operate expeditionary bases.
Zakheim said the role of U.S. Special Operations Command also continues to expand. "We're aligning the Marine Corps even more with the special ops forces so that the Marine Corps and the other general-purposes forces will pick up some of the special ops missions and the special ops folks will specialize in still others," he said.
Similarly, U.S. Joint Forces Command "has radically changed the way we train jointly and transformed the way we train and transformed the way we fight," he said. The result, he said, has become a model for many other countries' militaries.