Forces: August 23, 2004


: The format for the support units of the new American Army divisions is being made public. The Fires Unit of Action (or Fires UA, not sure what it will be called in the final version) will take the place of the Division Artillery and perhaps the separate Field Artillery Brigades at corps level. Each Fires Unit of Action will consist of a Headquarters, 3 MLRS Battalions (all ATACMS, long range missile, capable), two 155mm self-propelled howitzer battalions, and a support battalion. At one level, they will reinforce the fires of the Brigade Combat Teams artillery battalion, which is a somewhat smaller two-battery battalion of 16 guns (but may change to 3 batteries of 5, 6, or 8 guns). Normal battalions have 18 guns. With this organization, the Division Commander (or whatever the Unit of Employment will end up being called) will be able to weight his main effort with additional artillery and dedicated assets to the counter fire battle. The new organization nearly doubles the amount of artillery assigned to a division. Interestingly, there are hints from the USAF that the tube count will go way down and that the Army will depend more and more on the Air Force for fire support, using it to replace both artillery and attack helicopters. This remains to be seen

Each Unit of Employment (Division) will receive a Maneuver Enhancement UA. This will consist of a Rear Operations Center, a Civil Affairs Battalion, An Engineer Group, an MP (Military Police) Battalion, an NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) battalion, an ADA (Air Defense Artillery) Battalion (now apparently called Air and Missile Defense), and a Support Battalion. These increase and centralize many of the separate units currently in divisions (such as the NBC Company, ADA battalion, and MP Company), and resurrects the Division Engineer Brigade, albeit in a Group format.

The Sustainment unit of action looks to be taking the place of the Division Support Command and the Corps Support Group. It will consist of at least three Support Battalions, with Supply, quartermaster, medical, and maintenance units of different capabilities), a Medical Group, A Personnel Battalion, and a Finance Battalion.

The Reconnaissance and Security Unit of Action will be a brigade sized unit that effectively takes the place of the Armored Cavalry Squadron. The new R&S UA has an headquarters company, an MI (Military Intelligence) Battalion, a Support Company, and a Long Range Surveillance Company (LRSC). This organization looks to be a bit weak to this observer, as it does not provide the Division Commander with a dedicated set of eyes and ears in the form of the divisional Cavalry squadron. Indeed, the R&S UA looks a little like the MI battalion, made into a brigade, to compensate for losing its cavalry companies to the Brigade UAs. It will be interesting to see how this unit gets fleshed out, perhaps it will have JSTARS and AWACS ground stations, long range UAVs, and other radio-electronic equipment previously maintained at Corps. This unit would seem to be a better fit in the Maneuver Enhancement UA, while the LRSC should be in the Aviation UA, specifically in the General Support Aviation Battalion.

It appears that the new Heavy division has now been designed. Undoubtedly it will be tweaked as a result of combat and regional training center experience. It was not able to get to the five Units of Action (now Brigade Combat Teams) that was originally hoped for (and perhaps too near to the organization of the old Pentomic Division which was an abject failure) and nearly returns to the old World War I square Division of 12 Battalions. Expect the Infantry Division to have a similar look.

With this reorganization, the division grows from 10 maneuver battalions (4 or 5 tank, 4 or 5 infantry, and a cavalry squadron) to 12 (4 tank, 4 mechanized infantry, and 4 cavalry), with more tightly integrated supporting arms organic to the Brigade Combat Teams. It has more soldiers, as well, and groups all its units into 9 brigade sized units instead of the current divisions 7 brigade sized units (3 Maneuver Brigades, Aviation Brigade, Division Artillery, Engineer Brigade, and Division Support Command, plus several separate units: Division HHC, ADA Battalion, MP Company, Signal Battalion, MI Battalion, and Band, somewhat reducing the Divisions span of control.)

It is hoped that the new organization will be more deployable, more flexible, be able to generate more combat power, more supportive of rotation of units to overseas duty and alert status, and, through basing initiatives, withdrawal of forces to the Continental United States, more stable and therefore better trained and led.

At this point, this observer sees the division will be able to support rotation of its units better, though they will be no more or less interchangeable than the old brigade, appear to have less combat power, and are no more deployable. They may be more flexible than the old division, simply because they have more maneuver units to employ, but it remains doubtful if information will become the new reserve on the battlefield. -- Mike Robel


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