Forces: September 9, 2005


: Even as they are deeply involved with combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army is going through a major reorganization, and moving a large number of units and troops around. The reforms makes the brigades, not the divisions, the primary combat unit. The new brigades have more support units permanently attached, and can be more easily sent off to fight by themselves. In the past, doing this involved quickly adding a lot of support units to the brigade. But the new organization makes small support units part of the brigades, and, more importantly, the brigades train using these support units and learns to work well with them. The divisions still exist, but operate more like the corps has for the last two centuries (coordinating the actions of a few divisions and only having a few support units under its command.) Divisions now have four of the new brigades, but can control more (or less) in action. Each of the new brigades (or BCTs, for Brigade Combat Teams) has 3,500-4,000 troops (depending on type). There are three types of BCTs; light (infantry, including paratroopers), heavy (mechanized, including tanks) and Stryker (mechanized using wheeled armored vehicles.) During this reorganization, which will be completed next year, the army will end up with 43 combat brigades, instead of the current 33. This is done by reorganizing the combat units of each division into four brigades, instead of the current three. There are several independent brigades as well. New weapons and equipment (especially satellite based communications and battlefield Internet software) enable the army to get the same amount of combat power brigade, using fewer combat troops. The army is also transferring over 40,000 people from combat-support jobs to the combat brigades. The actual number of infantrymen and tanks wont change, but the number of communications, maintenance and intelligence support will. For example, increased use of robots, sensors and computerized vidcam surveillance systems makes it possible to do the same amount of work in combat, with fewer troops. A lot of these new ideas, and equipment, is being tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, and most of these items work well in combat. 

The new BCTs will be stationed in these bases:

Fort Benning, Ga.1 BCT
Fort Bliss, Texas4 BCTs
Fort Bragg, N.C.4 BCTs
Fort Campbell, Ky.4 BCTs
Fort Carson, Colo.4 BCTs
Fort Drum, N.Y.3 BCTs
Fort Hood, Texas5 BCTs
Fort Knox, Ky.1 BCT
Fort Lewis, Wash.3 Stryker BCTs
Fort Polk, La.1 BCT
Fort Richardson, Alaska1 BCT
Fort Riley, Kan.3 BCTs
Fort Stewart, Ga.3 BCTs
Fort Wainwright, Alaska1 Stryker BCT
Schofield Barracks, Hawaii1 BCT, 1 Stryker BCT
Fort Irwin (National Training Center), Calif.1 BCT (minus some units)
Korea1 BCT
Germany1 Stryker BCT
Italy1 BCT

As part of the reorganization, some 60,000 troops will be brought home from overseas bases (mainly in Europe, but also in South Korea,) The new brigades are designed, and trained, to quickly move overseas to a new hotspot. For that purpose, equipment for one or more BCTs is stored in potential hotspots (Kuwait, the Pacific, on ships). With these prepositioned equipment sets, all you have to do is fly in the troops, and then you have a BCT ready to go, all in a few days. 




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