Forces: October 5, 1999


With the Cold War over, there are really no huge armored armies left to justify the tank division attitudes the army has had for the last half century. The army's problem is that it needs units small enough to be quickly sent to distant hot spots. Divisions are too large and unwieldy for this sort of thing. The army also has a political problem in that they need be able to get units to hot spots faster than the marines. The marines have battalions and brigades of troops afloat with the fleet in various parts of the world. When a situation out there begins to warm up, the navy tends to send its marines and warships towards the trouble. Thus the marines are ready to go in first, much to the chagrin of the army, which has no other jobs to do except intervene in overseas crises. In a desperate scramble to stay relevant, the army is planning to reorganize to out-deploy the marines. The US Army eliminated most of its regimental organizations in the 1950s. Now it proposes to do away with the divisions. The main battlefield unit will be the brigade. This is nothing new. Before divisions were invented some two centuries ago, the most common unit was the brigade. Many European nations have, in the past decade or so, gone over to a brigade system.


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