Forces: October 27, 1999

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SHINSEKI'S NEW ARMY: Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki has announced plans for a series of radical changes to the US Army. These include: 
@ Bring all 10 combat divisions and the three Armored Cavalry Regiments up to full strength by 30 Sept 2000 and all Corps units by 2002. All soldiers will be fully qualified for the jobs they have and hold the proper rank for their job by 30 Sept 2001. This will require more recruiting and will put the burden for shortages on support and headquarters units instead of robbing combat units to keep support units at full strength. (Currently, the combat units are short a total of 6,700 troops. It is unclear if combat units will still be tasked to provide soldiers for various non-military jobs such as running community centers.) 
@ Be able to deploy five divisions to a medium-sized war within 90 days. Indeed, Shinseki wants to be able to deploy a 5,000-man "medium" brigade anywhere in the world in 96 hours, and the rest of its division in another 24 hours. 
@ Eliminate tracked vehicles from the entire US Army, replacing them with lighter wheeled combat vehicles to improve deployability. Shinseki insists that wheeled vehicles would be "heavy enough" to survive in combat since they would be supported by information systems that allow them to avoid the kind of toe-to-toe attrition warfare that the Abrams Main Battle Tank was designed for. It is entirely plausible that the entire Army could be mounted only three vehicles (LAV armored cars, Hummer trucks, and the new 5-ton tactical family trucks). This will standardize spare parts and ammunition supply systems.
@ Erase the distinction between "heavy" and "light" units; all brigades in the Army will be uniform "medium" brigades. This may include converting the 82nd Airborne and 101st Air Assault Divisions into medium units. These two "elite" divisions would be the last to be converted as they must wait for "medium" technologies to mature.
@ As an interim step, one heavy mechanized brigade (from 2nd Infantry
Division) and one light brigade (from 25th Infantry Division) both at Fort Lewis (Washington State) will be converted to medium brigades using existing off-the-shelf technology. These will be designed for contingency operations such as those faced in Somalia, Haiti, and Kosovo, but will be given enough killing power to allow them to fight in heavy armored combat and win. Shinseki does not plan to "study" the strike force concept as former Chief of Staff Reimer planned, and will stand up the units and seek a place the send them.
@ Fix the Army's "Identity Crisis". Supposedly, the Army (particularly after Kosovo) is not sure what it is supposed to be doing, or how to do it. Shinseki feels that his vision, to turn the entire Army into interchangeable medium combat brigades, will make the Army the "first choice for any crisis".
@ Rumors are flying that General Shinseki will cancel the Crusader artillery system and use its $11 billion budget to fund his radical changes to the rest of the Army. Each Crusader system (one gun vehicle and one ammunition vehicle) weighs 100 tons, not even close to the Shinseki vision of a light deployable force. Proponents of Crusader insist that it is perfect for future highly mobile units since it is the most agile and responsive artillery system ever created.--Stephen V Cole

 


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