Structuring the Active and Reserve Army for the 21st Century Section 6 of 7
December 1997

Chapter Four

Alternatives for Meeting the Army's Force Requirements

The Army's current force structure is expensive to maintain, requires a great many support personnel and lift assets to deploy overseas, and suffers from an imbalance between combat and support units. The Army plans to partially rectify that imbalance by converting some combat forces to support forces. However, its plan would not reduce the need for large numbers of support personnel or make the force structure significantly cheaper to maintain and equip.

The Congressional Budget Office investigated ways that the Army could address some of its current problems by changing its force structure more drastically than the Army's plan envisions (see Table 5). One way to do that would be to rely more on allied governments and civilian contractors to provide support for U.S. combat forces arriving in their country (Alternative I in this analysis). With such host-nation support, the Army could reduce the amount of equipment it would have to ship overseas in the event of a conflict. Another approach (Alternative II) would create additional support forces in the active Army, thereby reducing the Army's reliance on reserve support units early in a major regional conflict or for lesser contingencies in peacetime. Finally, the Army could lower its costs by eliminating some combat forces from the active component and relying more on existing combat units in the National Guard to fight a second MRC (the approach taken in Alternative IV). Of course, more than one of those approaches could be pursued simultaneously; for example, Alternative III in this analysis is a combination of the first two options.
 


Table 5.
Changes in Force Structure Under the Army's Plan and Four Alternatives
Option Changes in Force Structure

Army's Plan: Reconfigure the National Guard
  • Convert 12 Guard combat brigades to support units
 
Alternative I: Increase Reliance on Host-Nation Support and Civilian Contractors
  • Eliminate four Guard combat divisions
  • Rely on host nations and civilian contractors for the equivalent of 62,000 Army support troops in two major regional conflicts
 
Alternative II: Create Additional Support Forces in the Active Army
  • Convert two active-duty heavy divisions and one Guard combat division to support units
 
Alternative III: Combine Alternatives I and II
  • Convert two active-duty heavy divisions to support units
  • Eliminate four Guard combat divisions
  • Cut 35,000 support troops from the reserve component
  • Rely on host nations and civilian contractors for the equivalent of 62,000 Army support troops in two major regional conflicts
 
Alternative IV: Rely More Heavily on the Reserves to Fight a Second Major Regional Conflict
  • Eliminate three active-duty divisions (two heavy and one light) and four Guard combat divisions
  • Rely on host nations and civilian contractors for the equivalent of 62,000 Army support troops in two major regional conflicts

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office.
NOTE: None of CBO's alternatives would carry out the Army's planned conversion of 12 Guard combat brigades to support units.

CBO's four alternatives focus on solving the Army's shortage of support forces. But given current constraints on the Army's budget, none of the alternatives would increase the size of any of the three organizations within the Army (active, Guard, and Reserve).

CBO compared the alternatives based on such measures as the availability of forces to carry out the Army's federal and state missions, how quickly those forces could perform their missions, and how the risks and costs of each alternative compare with those of the current Army (see Table 6). For options that would reduce the size of the Army's force structure (Alternatives I, III, and IV), CBO estimated the savings that would result both directly and indirectly from those cuts. Direct savings come from avoiding the costs to operate and support the deployable forces that would be eliminated. Indirect savings come from reductions in the Army's infrastructure that might be possible because of the cuts in force structure. In other words, indirect savings reflect the potentially reduced need for medical support, training, repair facilities, and other support services associated with a smaller Army. As such, they reflect cuts in the number of both Army civilians and nondeploying forces.

These alternatives are not exhaustive. The Army could meet its force requirements in other ways, such as converting some of its institutional (nondeploying) forces to deployable support troops. But CBO had no way to evaluate the impact of such a reduction in the Army's infrastructure, so it did not investigate approaches that would shrink the institutional Army in order to create more deployable units. Rather, CBO confined its analysis to changes in the Army's deployable active and reserve forces.
 

The Army's Plan

In the next decade or so, the Army plans to reorganize some combat units in the National Guard into support units as well as continue to reduce the number of personnel in all three Army organizations. The Guard reconfiguration is designed to address the shortage of support troops identified by the Total Army Analysis 2003. The personnel cuts were recommended by the Quadrennial Defense Review.

National Guard Reconfiguration

The Army plans to create more deployable support forces for overseas conflicts by converting 12 Guard combat brigades into combat-support and combat-service-support units. That reorganization would create 42,700 support forces in the National Guard from an equal number of combat forces (see Table 6). The new support units would be organized into six support brigades and two support divisions. After the conversion, the Guard would retain eight divisions, although only six of them would be traditional combat divisions.
 


Table 6.
Effect of the Army's Plan and Four Alternatives on Annual Costs, Deployment Times, and Number of Forces
Army
in 1998
Army's
Plana
Alternatives
I II III IV

Average Annual Savings or Costs (-)
(Millions of 1997 dollars)
 
1998-2010
Direct savings n.a. -200 to -400 700 -200 850 2,500
Total savings n.a. -200 to -400 1,200 -200 1,550 4,500
 
After 2010
Direct savings n.a. 0b 800 100b 1,300 2,950
Total savings n.a. 0b 1,400 100b 2,150 5,250
 
Deployment Timec
(Days after start of first conflict)
 
First Theater 130 130 120 130 120 120
Second Theaterd 200 230 200 230 200 200
 
Combat Forces from the Guard Needed for the Second Conflicte
 
Combat Brigades 0 0 0 6 6 9
 
Assumed Extent of Host-Nation Support
 
Soldier Equivalents 15,000 15,000 62,000 10,000 62,000 62,000
 
Changes in Deployable Forces
 
Active Component
Combat divisions n.a. 0 0 -2 -2 -3
Combat personnel n.a. 0 0 -33,000 -33,000 -44,000
Support personnel n.a. 0 0 33,000 33,000 0
 
Reserve Component
Combat divisions (Guard) n.a. -4f -4 -1 -4 -4
Combat personnel (Guard) n.a. -42,700 -58,300 -15,000 -58,300 -58,300
Support personnel (Guard and Reserve) n.a. 42,700 0 15,000 -35,000 0
 
Total Force Structure
 
Combat Divisions
Active component 10 10 10 8 8 7
Reserve component (Guard) 8 6g 4 7 4 4
 
Deployable Support Forces
Active component 136,000 136,000 136,000 169,000 169,000 136,000
Reserve component 291,000 333,700 291,000 306,000 256,000 291,000
 
Total Personnel
Active Army 495,000 495,000 495,000 495,000 495,000 430,300
Army National Guard 367,000 367,000 305,000 367,000 287,100 305,000
Army Reserve 208,000 208,000 208,000 208,000 189,600 208,000

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office.
NOTE: n.a. = not applicable.
a. Does not include personnel cuts recommended by the Quadrennial Defense Review.
b. Some small savings in operation and maintenance costs may result from converting combat units to support units.
c. Time required to deliver all troops and equipment needed to fight each of two major regional conflicts.
d. Assumes the second conflict begins 45 days after the first.
e. To form the equivalent of 5 1/3 divisions.
f. Two divisions and six separate brigades.
g. Although the Army's plan would retain six combat divisions in the National Guard, it would reduce the number of separate brigades from 18 to 12, an additional reduction equivalent to two combat divisions.

The conversion would mean a drastic change in mission, equipment, and training for many of the units involved. For example, units with a combat mission, such as tank companies, would be converted to units with a support mission, such as truck companies. In the process, a tank company would trade in its 14 tanks for various kinds of trucks, and its soldiers would have to learn to drive trucks and deliver petroleum products or other supplies rather than find and attack an enemy. In converting 12 Guard brigades, the Army is planning to inactivate some 600 tanks, 1,300 armored personnel carriers, 50 attack helicopters, and 260 howitzers. In their place, it plans to buy almost 7,000 medium-sized and heavy trucks to equip the new units.

Carrying out the reorganization would require significant funds and time. According to the Army, the total cost to convert the 12 combat brigades to support units would be almost $3 billion. The bulk of that ($2.5 billion) would be spent on equipment--primarily trucks--for the new units. Another $350 million would go for new facilities and for training the combat soldiers for their new support roles. The Army plans to complete the conversion by 2009. But if $400 million is not available each year to buy trucks and carry out the plan, converting all 12 brigades could take longer.

The reconfiguration of Guard units would alleviate, but not eliminate, the Army's shortage of support forces for two MRCs. The Total Army Analysis 2003 identified a shortage of 58,400 support spaces in the Army, but the planned reconfiguration would create about 42,700 support spaces--leaving a shortfall of 15,700. Support from host nations, based on the Army's estimate, could reduce that shortfall to 1,000. But the Army is reluctant to rely heavily on the availability of such support in the absence of formal signed agreements with host nations.

Similarly, the Guard reorganization would reduce, but not eradicate, the Army's oversupply of combat forces (see Figure 11). Converting 42,700 combat troops would still leave the service with many excess combat forces. However, the Army's plan would eliminate some of the Guard combat forces that have been identified as having no direct role to play in current warfighting plans.
 


Figure 11.
Army Forces Available for Two MRCs After Reorganizing the National Guard and Making Cuts Recommended by the Quadrennial Defense Review
Graph

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on data from the Army.
NOTES: This figure represents deployable forces only. Requirements are based on the results of the Total Army Analysis 2003. All other forces represent authorized levels.
MRC = major regional conflict; QDR = Quadrennial Defense Review.
a. Host-nation support and civilian contractors.
b. Force level in 2002.

Recommendations of the Quadrennial Defense Review

In May 1997, Defense Secretary William Cohen recommended further changes to the Army in his report on the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). Besides reorganizing 12 Guard combat brigades into support brigades, he recommended cutting the active component by 15,000 personnel and the reserve component by 45,000 personnel. Cohen's report contained only a few details about when or where those reductions would be made. It advocated retaining all of the combat units in the active Army, but it was not specific about how many of the Guard's 30 combat brigades (the number that would remain after the planned reorganization) should be retained. Furthermore, the report did not specify whether the active and reserve personnel cuts would come from deployable or institutional forces, or how the reserve cuts would be distributed between the Guard and the Army Reserve.

Subsequent press articles and an agreement between the Army's three organizations about how to carry out some of the reductions have provided additional details. The active Army will make its 15,000-person cut (from the force's 1997 authorized size of 495,000) at the rate of 5,000 soldiers per year in 1997, 1998, and 1999. The resulting active-duty force will have 480,000 personnel (see Table 7). On the reserve side, the Army National Guard will lose more than 17,000 soldiers by 2000, shrinking to 350,000 people. And the Army Reserve will be cut by 3,000 soldiers in 2000, for a total of 205,000 personnel.
 


Table 7.
Army Personnel Levels Through 2000 Based on the President's Budget and the Recommendations of the Quadrennial Defense Review
Actual
1996
Authorized
1997 1998 1999 2000

Based on the President's 1998 Budget
 
Active Army 491,000 495,000 495,000 495,000 495,000
National Guard 370,000 367,000 367,000 367,000 367,000
Army Reserve 226,000 215,000 208,000 208,000 208,000
 
Based on Recommendations of the Quadrennial Defense Review
 
Active Army 491,000 490,000 485,000 480,000 480,000
National Guard 370,000 367,000 362,000 357,000 350,000
Army Reserve 226,000 215,000 208,000 208,000 205,000

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on William S. Cohen, Annual Report to the President and the Congress (Department of Defense, April 1997); and "Reimer/West Memo to Cohen," Inside the Pentagon, June 12, 1997, p. 13.
NOTE: Personnel levels are for the end of the fiscal year.

The Army plans to cut the other 25,000 people from the reserve component by 2002, but how that cut would be distributed between the Guard and the Reserve was not spelled out in the agreement that the three organizations reached. However, press reports indicate that the Guard would bear the brunt, losing an extra 21,000 personnel to the Reserve's 4,000. If that happened, the Guard would number 329,000 soldiers by 2002 and the Reserve 201,000.

Reductions of that size could yield significant savings when complete. All told, the Army could save $1.6 billion a year in personnel costs alone (pay and benefits). If it eliminated entire units from its force structure as well as personnel, the Army could realize additional savings in the costs to operate and maintain its forces.

Although the Army has agreed on how many people to cut, it has not yet decided where in its force structure to make the reductions. The Quadrennial Defense Review specified that the active Army would keep all 10 of its divisions. The Guard, too, would retain its current eight divisions, though not all would be combat divisions. Some press reports have suggested that the Army is looking at converting seven of the Guard's heavy divisions into light divisions. Such a conversion could eliminate almost 34,000 combat soldiers from the Guard, according to press reports. If the remaining personnel cuts (the 15,000 active-duty troops, another 4,000 soldiers from the Guard, and a total of 7,000 Army Reserve troops) were distributed among the Army's institutional, combat, and support forces roughly in proportion to the current distribution of those forces within each organization, then 5,000 combat troops would be eliminated from the active Army. Thus, carrying out the recommendations of the Quadrennial Defense Review could cost the Army some 39,000 active and Guard combat soldiers. When combined with the combat forces that would be lost through the Army's planned reconfiguration of Guard combat units to support units, the service could face a total cut in combat forces of 81,700 personnel.

If the personnel reductions of the QDR were distributed as outlined above, they would greatly reduce the number of excess combat forces in the Army (see Figure 11). However, they would also reduce the number of support forces by 12,000. Such a reduction would exacerbate the shortage of support forces identified in the Total Army Analysis 2003, which the Guard reconfiguration is designed to address.

Since the Army has not stated definitively how or where it will make the QDR cuts, evaluating their impact is difficult. In addition, the proposed personnel reductions must be endorsed by the Congress, so their fate is uncertain. Without additional specific knowledge about their disposition, CBO cannot use the proposed reductions as a basis for comparing alternative approaches. Thus, subsequent discussions of the Army's plan in this chapter exclude the personnel cuts recommended by the Quadrennial Defense Review.

Assessment of the Army's Plan

The Army's plan to reorganize the National Guard would not address many of the concerns with the current force structure identified in the previous chapter. Specifically, it would not reduce the Army's need for large numbers of support forces to accompany its combat forces. Thus, it would not lessen the Army's need to transport hundreds of shiploads of equipment overseas to fight major regional conflicts or the resulting long delays associated with building up forces to fight those conflicts. Nor would creating more support units in the Guard lessen the Army's dependence on the reserve component to provide support forces relatively early in an MRC or during peacetime operations. In fact, the percentage of total support forces in the reserves would rise slightly after the restructuring.

Moreover, the Army's plan (excluding the personnel cuts recommended by the QDR) would not reduce the cost of equipping and maintaining the Army, at least not for the next decade. Although the Guard's new support units might ultimately be a bit cheaper to maintain and equip than the combat units they would replace, converting them would cost almost $3 billion. Overall, the plan to reorganize Guard combat units into support units would address only a small subset of the concerns about the current Army that CBO has identified.
 

Alternative I: Increase Reliance on Host-Nation Support and Civilian Contractors

The Army could reduce its requirement for support forces and speed deployments by relying more on host nations and contractors for some support services. As the Army built up forces in a theater to fight a major regional conflict, the nation it was defending could be expected to aid those forces by providing transportation, fuel, and other logistics support. Such host-nation infrastructure could help sustain a sizable U.S. force once it had safely secured airports, seaports, and air cover. In addition, the Army could hire civilian contractors to provide such basic subsistence items as food, laundry services, and shelter.

If host nations and civilian contractors overseas can provide support services when necessary, the Army need not maintain as many support forces in peacetime. Nor would it have to transport as much equipment overseas in wartime. According to a recent analysis commissioned by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the capacity of South Korea's civilian infrastructure exceeds the demands that the U.S. military would probably place on it during a conflict by a factor of 12 or more in the areas of cargo transport, petroleum transport, and availability of construction workers, hospital beds, and water supplies.(1) The capability of Saudi Arabia's civilian infrastructure exceeds U.S. wartime needs by at least a factor of four, the analysis found.

The U.S. military has enlisted the help of host nations during past conflicts. During the early stages of the Persian Gulf War, for example, Saudi Arabia provided extensive support in the form of food, fuel, water, and transportation. In preparing some studies, planners at the Department of Defense have assumed that the Army could count on large contributions of similar support in the future. For instance, in its analysis of mobility requirements, DoD assumed host-nation contributions--primarily in the areas of supply and transportation units--equivalent to as many as 42,000 U.S. support troops.(2) By contrast, the Total Army Analysis 2003 assumed host-nation support equivalent to just 15,000 support forces.

Civilian contractors provide another source of outside personnel to perform support functions. The Army established the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) in 1985 to plan how it could augment its support forces with civilian contractors who would perform selected combat-support and combat-service-support activities during overseas deployments. The Army has a contract with DynCorporation Aerospace Technology to develop a basic augmentation plan applicable worldwide, as well as plans for operations in 13 specific countries. The contract also calls for DynCorporation to be able to receive, house, and sustain as many as 20,000 U.S. troops for up to 180 days with 30 days' notice. The Army's previous LOGCAP contractor, Brown and Root Service Corporation, provided similar services to Army forces in Somalia and Bosnia.(3)

The current contract envisions support for relatively small deployments--no more than 40,000 troops. Thus, LOGCAP services might be useful in providing initial or limited support before a system of host-nation support was established, or in managing that system once it was in place. In any case, because a LOGCAP contractor must have a global network of in-country subcontractors, it can provide a ready-made network to ease the entry of U.S. forces into a theater, without putting demands on the military's transportation system.

Recent analyses have suggested that increased reliance on host nations and civilian contractors could reduce the Army's requirements for support forces by 42,000 to 77,300 troops. The first number is based on the estimate of possible host-nation contributions used in DoD's Mobility Requirements Study; the second reflects an assessment by the Institute for Defense Analyses of the potential of both host-nation support and civilian contractors.(4) The 42,000-person estimate is roughly equivalent to the number of new support troops that would result from the Army's plan to reorganize the National Guard.

Changes in Force Structure

This alternative assumes that host nations and civilian contractors could provide support equivalent to that afforded by 62,000 Army troops (see Table 6). Their contributions would more than make up the Army's perceived shortfall in support forces.

With no shortage of support troops, this option would cancel the Army's plan to turn Guard combat brigades into support units and would eliminate four Guard divisions from the force structure. That would reduce the size of the Guard by about 58,300 personnel--more than half the excess combat forces in the Army. To ensure an orderly drawdown of forces, one division would be eliminated each year between 1998 and 2001. The Guard would lose an additional 3,200 soldiers who indirectly support the disbanded divisions. Thus, by 2002, the National Guard would contain only four combat divisions and 305,000 people overall.

Advantages

Alternative I would have several advantages. It would make overseas deployments of U.S. forces easier, it would eliminate more than 58,000 excess combat forces from the National Guard, and it would result in significant annual savings once complete.

Using host-nation support should make the job of assembling large numbers of U.S. forces in an overseas theater faster and less difficult. When the first troops arrived, some support personnel would already be in place to assist them. Some support equipment would also be on hand already and would not have to be shipped from Army bases elsewhere. If host nations and in-country contractors could provide support forces equivalent to 62,000 soldiers during the conduct of two MRCs, the Army could reduce the amount of equipment to be shipped overseas by more than 10 percent. As a result, U.S. forces could finish deploying earlier than under the Army's plan. Specifically, all forces could be in place for an initial conflict in Korea 10 days earlier and in place in the second theater 30 days earlier (see Table 8).
 


Table 8.
Effect That Increased Support from Host Nations and Civilian Contractors Would Have on Deployment Times
Army's Plan Alternative I

First MRC in Korea
 
Contribution from Host Nation and Contractors (Soldier equivalents) 9,000a 38,000
 
Time Required to Assemble All Forces in Theater (Days after start of conflict) 130 120
 
Second MRC in the Middle East
 
Contribution from Host Nation and Contractors (Soldier equivalents) 6,000a 24,000
 
Time Required to Assemble All Forces in Theater
Days after start of first MRC 230 200
Days after start of second MRC 185 155

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on John C.F. Tillson and others, Review of the Army Process for Determining Force Structure Requirements (Alexandria, Va.: Institute for Defense Analyses, May 1996), and Army data.
NOTE: MRC = major regional conflict.
a. Based on the Total Army Analysis 2003.

Another advantage of essentially substituting host-nation support and civilian contractors for Army personnel is that the U.S. government would have to pay for their services only in the event of a conflict. In some instances, such as during the Persian Gulf War, the host nation might even provide some support services free of charge. Civilian contractors in the LOGCAP program charge an annual fee for planning support even if their services are not used, but that cost is less than the cost of keeping thousands of soldiers in uniform, even in the reserves.

After the drawdown in Alternative I was complete, the Army would save $1.4 billion a year ($800 million in direct savings and $600 million in indirect savings, compared with the cost of today's Army) from the reduced number of people and divisions it would have to support in the National Guard. Compared with its plan, the Army would not have to pay for the restructuring of Guard units, thus saving an additional $3 billion over roughly a decade.

Disadvantages

Relying on host nations and civilian contractors for some support services--even for just a small fraction of overall Army needs--would entail some risk. Today, the Army uses civilian contractors primarily to provide assistance for small peacetime contingencies; as a result, contractors may not be capable of supporting large deployments. The Army argues that civilians may also be reluctant to work in the hostile environments that could develop during a major regional conflict, particularly if they risk exposure to chemical or biological weapons.

Some host nations may be unable or unwilling to provide support for U.S. forces. In recent examples, U.S. forces operating in Somalia and Bosnia were not invited into the country by the host government. Theoretically, the United States might someday need to operate in countries where the infrastructure was limited and unable to support the large number of forces necessary for a major conflict. However, it is hard to imagine circumstances in which the Army would deploy hundreds of thousands of troops to a country that lacked an extensive and developed infrastructure or one that was unwilling to help support the U.S. forces sent to its aid.

The Army has also expressed the concern that even where host nations have the capacity to support large U.S. operations, there is no guarantee that they will do so when needed without written agreements. That concern is a legitimate one. It motivates the Army's desire to have enough deployable support forces for an MRC in its own ranks. It also explains why the Total Army Analysis 2003 assumed a relatively small amount of host-nation support.

U.S. experience in the Persian Gulf War, however, suggests that the Army's fears are overblown. During that operation, the Saudis provided large amounts of support at their own expense, even without prearranged agreements. Contracts were negotiated in the country even as U.S. soldiers were arriving.

Alternative I would suffer from at least three other disadvantages. First, it would cut the number of Guard divisions by half, significantly reducing the size of the U.S. forces that are held in reserve to deal with unknown, unanticipated threats. Although the Army also plans to cut the number of Guard divisions, this alternative would eliminate about 16,000 more Guard combat troops than the Army's plan. Second, this option would not significantly reduce the Army's need to call up reservists during peacetime to support even small operations. And third, by cutting the National Guard by 17 percent, it would reduce the forces available to meet the needs of state governors. The Guard's overall ability to carry out its state mission would probably not be affected, but some states could be left with much smaller Guard contingents than they have today.
 

Alternative II: Create Additional Support Forces in the Active Army

One way to address the Army's shortage of support forces is to create extra support units in the active component rather than in the reserves, as the Army's plan envisions. The large numbers of reservists necessary to support just one MRC, and the fact that they would be needed overseas shortly after a conflict began, raises concerns about the feasibility of relying so heavily on reserve support units in such an operation. Based on a recent analysis by RAND, the reserves could not provide the level of support that the Army assumes for a major regional conflict if the call-up of units was delayed by as little as 20 days.(5) During the Persian Gulf War, the first units were not called up until 20 days after the conflict started. For the rest of the units, even longer delays, averaging 100 days, elapsed before their activation. Increasing the number of active-duty support forces would lessen the Army's reliance on reserve support forces and the risk that they might not be available in time.

The overall size of the active Army is limited by budget constraints, so CBO did not investigate any alternatives that would increase the number of deployable forces in the active component. The only way to add support forces to the active Army without increasing its size or converting institutional forces to deployable forces--approaches CBO did not consider--is to turn active combat units into support units.

Changes in Force Structure

Alternative II would convert two active-duty heavy divisions entirely into support units (thus eliminating the divisions from the Army's combat forces). The process would be similar to the one the Army plans to use to reconfigure National Guard combat units. As explained in Chapter 1, divisions typically contain both combat units and combat-support/combat-service-support units. In this alternative, the purely combat units, such as tank and attack-helicopter companies, would be reorganized and reequipped for support missions. Some of the existing support units--such as signal, maintenance, and transportation units--would be unchanged. Others, such as artillery units, would be converted to forces for which the Army has the greatest need--primarily transportation and fuel-handling units. In addition, if the new support forces were to be available to fill the roles that are most in demand for peacetime operations, some of them would need to become military police and civil affairs units.

As with the Army's plan, turning active-duty combat divisions into support units would be a long process, taking up to a decade. New equipment would have be purchased and exchanged for combat equipment, and personnel would have to be transferred or retrained to staff the new units. Costs would be similar to those of the Army's plan: almost $3 billion over the next 10 years. All in all, the process of converting two active divisions to support units would require reassigning 33,000 people and hundreds of pieces of equipment.

Creating an extra 33,000 support spaces in the active component would still leave the Army short about 25,000 support spaces overall, based on the requirements of the Total Army Analysis 2003. Thus, Alternative II would also convert one combat division in the Guard to support units, creating an additional 15,000 support troops (see Table 6). The remaining support needs would have to be met by host nations or through the use of civilian contractors.

Could the National Guard Play a Greater Combat Role?

With two heavy divisions eliminated from the active Army, the service would no longer have enough combat forces in the active component to fight two major regional conflicts. As a result, it would have to rely on combat units in the National Guard to help make up the full complement of combat forces for a second MRC.

Reserve combat units may be more than adequate to fight likely opponents. Although the Army has been reluctant to use them for recent or potential regional conflicts, some defense experts maintain that Guard combat units are more capable than the standing armies of potential adversaries around the world. For instance, they are equipped with newer and more sophisticated weapons than many national armies. And members of the National Guard are better educated and receive more realistic training than the soldiers of many of the United States' potential enemies.

Assuming that Guard combat brigades can be trained to the same level of proficiency as their active-duty counterparts, the feasibility of substituting them for some active units in a second MRC hinges on how quickly they can be ready to deploy. The Administration's goal is to have each of the 15 enhanced readiness brigades (ERBs) in the National Guard ready to deploy within 90 days.(6) (ERBs are combat brigades that the Administration plans to maintain at a higher level of readiness than other combat forces in the Guard. They are intended to reinforce active combat units during a major conflict.)

Some analysts have questioned the realism of that 90-day goal, however. A 1995 study by RAND estimated that readying a Guard brigade for combat could take as long as 128 days, although its intermediate estimate was 104 days.(7) Even that estimate is two weeks longer than DoD's official goal. In contrast, a study by the Institute for Defense Analyses claimed that at least some Guard brigades could be ready to deploy in just 60 days.(8)

If some Guard combat units were ready for deployment after 60 to 104 days of training, and if transit to the theater took 22 days, Guard units could begin arriving in theater in 82 days to 126 days. Of course, any time that elapsed between the start of the first conflict and the mobilization of reserves would be added to that arrival time. Thus, if the second conflict started 45 days after the first (and the Guard was mobilized as soon as the first conflict began), then Guard brigades could begin to arrive about 40 days to 80 days into the second conflict.

With that sort of timeline, Guard brigades would not be able to provide an initial defense, or halting force, during a second conflict. As in any major conflict, combat units would be needed early in a second MRC to deter further progress by the aggressor. Only active-duty combat units could deploy quickly enough if the separation between two MRCs was as little as 45 days. Thus, they would have to provide the halting force early in a second MRC (similar to the one that the 82nd Airborne Division and other early-arriving combat units provided during Operation Desert Shield).

In all, 3 1/3 active divisions would be available for the second conflict under this alternative. The Guard would provide the remaining combat forces. In order for the Army to deploy the rough equivalent of 5 1/3 divisions, the Guard would have to send six of its 15 ERBs to the second theater.

Relying on the reserves to provide six combat brigades for a second MRC might not delay the Army's ability to conduct large-scale operations. The first Guard brigades could begin arriving 40 days to 80 days after the conflict started. Given the long time needed to transport all Army forces to a second MRC, waiting for the remaining Guard units might not significantly slow the arrival of the full combat force. In fact, even if all six Guard brigades could be ready to deploy in 90 days (or 45 days into the second conflict), there would not be room on the transport ships to move all of them to the theater.

A 1996 RAND study that examined the time and resources needed to train Guard brigades for combat concluded that training all six heavy ERBs for a major conflict would require a minimum of 159 days.(9) But even if the last of the six took that long to get ready--and thus did not arrive in theater until 140 days after the start of the second conflict--all six would still be in place over a month before all of the necessary support equipment for that theater (see Figure 12). In short, the Guard brigades that would form a significant part of the combat forces for a second MRC in Alternative II should be ready to deploy overseas well before all of the support forces needed in the theater could be delivered there.
 


Figure 12.
Total Combat Forces and Support Equipment in Theater for a Second MRC Under the Army's Plan and Alternative II
Graph

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on Army data and Thomas F. Lippiatt and others, Postmobilization Training Resource Requirements (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1996).

Advantages

Alternative II has several distinct advantages. By creating more support units in the active component, it would make a rapid buildup of forces for an initial conflict less risky. And assuming that the new support forces were of the appropriate type, it would also make more active units available for small peacetime operations, thus eliminating the need to activate reservists for such missions. Avoiding activation costs for thousands of reservists in peacetime could save the Army money. Additional savings might result if the new support units cost less to operate and maintain than the combat units they replaced. Those annual savings would be small, however. Once all of the units had been converted (after 2010), this alternative might save $100 million a year compared with the current Army (see Table 6). Actually converting the units would cost a total of almost $3 billion before 2010.

Unlike the previous option, this alternative would not rely heavily on resources outside the Army, such as civilian contractors or allied nations, to provide support for Army combat forces. Thus, it would avoid the risks associated with that reliance, as outlined in the discussion of Alternative I. This option would also eliminate more than 40 percent of the excess combat forces in the Army, with a significant portion coming from the active component. (The Army's plan, by contrast, would reduce the size of combat forces only in the Guard.) And Alternative II would retain a large strategic hedge against future uncertainty by retaining seven combat divisions in the Guard.

Disadvantages

Reducing the participation of reserve units in a single regional conflict or in peacetime operations would run counter to one of the cornerstones of U.S. defense strategy, the Total Force Policy. As noted in Chapter 3, that policy was adopted after the Vietnam War in an effort to involve the civilian soldiers of the reserve component in all major military operations. The Army and DoD have reiterated their support for the Total Force Policy, which they believe was validated during the Persian Gulf War. Since then, they have expanded the use of reserve forces in small peacetime operations. Some members of the Army have argued that restructuring the service in a way that eliminated reserve participation in all but two MRCs might make military leaders and other Army personnel feel more cut off from society as a whole.

From the perspective of costs, adding support forces to the active component could be inefficient because the Army would be paying for some full-time units that received little use on a day-to-day basis. Many forces that exist solely in the reserves, such as civil affairs and prisoner-of-war units, are there because they were originally perceived to be in low demand during peacetime. However, those types of units have been called up for recent contingencies in Haiti and Bosnia. If the Army is going to conduct similar operations on a regular basis in the future, the units it will require should perhaps be in the active Army. But if such operations will occur only infrequently, keeping those units in the reserves until they are needed would make more sense.

Perhaps the major disadvantage of Alternative II is that it would greatly reduce the number of active combat forces for a second MRC (see Figure 13). Just 3 1/3 active divisions would be available to fight in a second conflict under this option. Of course, the Army would still have enough combat forces in the Guard--seven divisions and 18 brigades--to provide the two additional divisions needed. But according to DoD estimates, entire Guard divisions could not be ready in time to participate in the second MRC. The Guard's enhanced readiness brigades should be ready in time, but substituting six separate Guard brigades for two active divisions would present at least four drawbacks.
 


Figure 13.
Army Forces Available for a Conflict in Korea Followed by a Conflict in the Middle East Under Alternatives II and III
Graph

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office.
NOTE: Requirements are based on the results of the Total Army Analysis 2003.
a. Host-nation support and civilian contractors.

First, six brigades do not provide the same combat capability as two divisions, even if Guard brigades are fully trained when they enter a theater. The reason is that although three separate brigades contain roughly the same number of combat troops as a division, they do not include the supporting forces--such as command and control, artillery, logistics, and aviation units--typically found in a division.(10) Under Alternative II, separate combat brigades from the Guard could be attached to the active divisions sent to the second conflict, but the resulting force would not be as capable as one composed of five full divisions.

The difference in capability extends to individual soldiers as well. Although Guard combat brigades have the same equipment and would be trained to the same standards as active-duty brigades, their personnel do not have the same level of military experience. Active-duty soldiers sent into combat--especially senior officers and enlisted personnel in positions of leadership--have many years of experience that shape their judgment and ability to act with other Army units and other services. Members of the Guard, by contrast, are required to spend only weekends and an annual two-week training period honing their skills and military knowledge. Many reservists do have some active-duty experience, but the fact that they are soldiers only part of the time often means that their military skills are not as broad and deep as those of their active-duty counterparts, even after a period of postmobilization training. That difference, though impossible to quantify, is a source of uncertainty and risk in relying on reserve combat forces rather than active-duty combat forces. Some defense experts believe it is a particular concern in the case of large combat units such as brigades.

Second, Alternative II might not provide the same level of reinforcements as the Army's plan. In the case of two MRCs, if the Army needed to reinforce the initial combat force of 5 1/3 divisions in either theater, it is unclear how many additional Guard combat brigades could be ready in time. The Army's plan would rely on the six most ready Guard brigades to act as reinforcements. Alternative II, by contrast, would use those brigades as part of the initial combat force in a second theater. As a result, any reinforcements would have to come from the second echelon of the Guard's 15 ERBs.

Third, relying on Guard units for initial combat forces (even for the second conflict) means that any delays in mobilizing the reserves after a crisis erupts will lead to delays in deploying the full contingent of combat troops overseas. That problem is even more critical for combat units than support units because the former take much longer to prepare for deployment. The estimate that six Guard combat brigades could arrive in theater about 140 days into a second MRC assumes that the reserves are mobilized on the day the first conflict breaks out. If that did not happen, arrival times would be pushed back, eventually calling into question the ability of those brigades to participate in a second conflict.

Moreover, even if mobilization occurred immediately, the job of training Guard units before deployment could introduce delays. RAND's 1996 training study examined the facilities and personnel that would be available to train Guard combat brigades in the event of a large-scale mobilization for one or more major conflicts. It determined that in order to train six Guard brigades in 160 days (thus allowing them to be overseas in 180 days), the Army would need to operate three brigade-level training sites simultaneously. That would be possible, RAND concluded, but somewhat risky. The main risk would be that the Army would not have enough proficient active-duty trainers to conduct large-scale training exercises at three sites. Running only two training sites would pose much less risk, the study asserted, but would mean that training four brigades would take 160 days, and training six brigades would take almost 230 days--putting those forces in the second theater 140 days and 210 days, respectively, after the start of the second conflict.

Fourth, delays in the arrival of Guard combat brigades could hold up the start of a counterattack in the second theater. If either mobilizing the reserves or training the combat brigades took longer than expected, the fifth and sixth Guard brigades might not arrive overseas until after all of the support equipment. Delays in both mobilization and training could even hold up the arrival of the third and fourth brigades until nearly all of the support forces were in place. Such delays could adversely affect the schedule for carrying out military operations in the theater, putting U.S. ground forces in danger while the commander awaited the arrival of all six Guard combat brigades.

Even if those brigades met the most optimistic schedule outlined above (all six arriving 140 days into the second conflict), they could still adversely affect the pace of a campaign. The reason is that theater commanders need not wait until all support forces are in place before mounting a counteroffensive. The Total Army Analysis 2003 calls for a final ratio of support to combat forces of nearly 2.5 to 1 for an MRC. But during the Persian Gulf War, ratios were around 1.4 to 1 when the ground war and counteroffensive began. Based on CBO's estimate of delivery rates, ratios of that level could be achieved in a second theater within about 110 days (or 155 days after the start of the first conflict). Under the most optimistic conditions, only three combat brigades from the Guard could be in theater in that time. Under less than optimal conditions--delayed mobilization, fewer than three training sites--none of the Guard brigades might be in theater that quickly. In that case, relying on the Guard for part of the initial combat force in a second MRC could delay a counteroffensive, lengthen the exposure of U.S. forces to attack, and lead to increased U.S. casualties.

A final disadvantage of Alternative II is that it would not significantly reduce costs or requirements for lift from the levels under the Army's plan. It would convert roughly the same number of combat forces to support forces as that plan. Thus, the additional costs should be about the same--around $3 billion. Similarly, the Army would have to transport as much equipment overseas for two MRCs under this option as under its plan, so there would be no lessening of the service's taxing lift requirements.(11)
 

Alternative III: Increase Reliance on Host-Nation Support and Create Additional Support Forces in the Active Army

The Army could adopt the policies embodied in the first two alternatives at the same time. To make up for its shortage of support forces, it could place greater reliance on in-country resources as well as add support units to the active component.

Changes in Force Structure

Like Alternative II, this option would convert two active combat divisions to support units, thereby creating about 33,000 new support troops in the active Army. In addition, it would assume that host nations and civilian contractors could furnish the equivalent of 62,000 support personnel should the United States need to fight two nearly simultaneous MRCs. Thus, this alternative would provide the equivalent of 95,000 more support spaces than the Army has today. Along with creating additional support spaces, this option would reduce the size of the reserves by eliminating four Guard combat divisions and cutting 35,000 support personnel from the reserve component, equally distributed between the National Guard and the Army Reserve (see Table 9).
 


Table 9.
Changes in the Number of Army Personnel Under Alternative III
Active Army National Guard Army Reserve Total

Deployable Units
Combat units -33,000 -58,300 0 -91,300
Support unitsa 33,000 -17,500 -17,500 -2,000
Subtotal 0 -75,800 -17,500 -93,300
 
Nondeployable Unitsb 0 -4,100 -900 -5,000
 
Total 0 -79,900 -18,400 -98,300

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office.
a. Forces not assigned to major combat units such as divisions or brigades.
b. Units in the Army's Table of Distribution and Allowances.

Advantages

Alternative III would create an Army with more support forces that were ready to deploy overseas quickly than is the case today or than would result from the Army's plan. An Army based on Alternative III would also need less lift to fight a major regional conflict. If an initial MRC broke out in Korea, the combined effect of adding 33,000 support forces to the active Army and relying on South Korea to provide substantial host-nation support would mean the conflict could be fought with less than 50,000 reservists, as opposed to the approximately 110,000 needed under the Army's plan (see Figure 13). Thus, the Army could proceed to build up its forces without risking as many delays from the slow mobilization or activation of reserve units. Increased use of host-nation support and civilian contractors would also mean that the equipment for two MRCs could be in place more quickly than under the Army's plan. As a result, the completion of deliveries to the first and second theaters could be accelerated by 10 days and 30 days, respectively.

This alternative could also realize significant savings. With additional support forces in the active component, the Army could avoid activating reserve units in peacetime, thus saving about $100 million annually. Eliminating four Guard divisions could save about $1.4 billion a year (including direct and indirect savings), and cutting 35,000 reserve support troops could save another $650 million annually (with $400 million in direct savings from eliminating support units and $250 million in indirect savings). Total annual savings after 2010, when this alternative would be fully implemented, could reach almost $2.2 billion (see Table 10).
 


Table 10.
Average Annual Savings Under Alternative III (In millions of 1997 dollars)
1998-2010 After 2010

Costs to Convert Two Active-Duty Combat Divisions to Support Unitsa -200 0
 
Savings from Not Deploying Reserve Forces in Peacetime 0 100
 
Savings from Eliminating Four Guard Divisions
Direct 700 800
Indirect 500 600
 
Savings from Cutting Support Units in the Reserve Component
Direct 350 400
Indirect 200 250
 
Total Savings 1,550 2,150
Direct 850 1,300
Indirect 700 850

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office.
a. The total cost would be $2.9 billion through 2006; after that, no costs would be incurred.

Disadvantages

Alternative III would suffer from the principal disadvantages of the two previous options. It would rely heavily on outside personnel to support Army efforts in MRCs. It would also depend on Guard combat units to fight a second conflict should one erupt shortly after a first. In addition, it would reduce the total combat forces in the Army by more than either of the previous two alternatives (26 percent) because it would eliminate combat units from both the active Army and the Guard. That means the United States would have fewer and less ready forces in reserve to deal with an unanticipated threat or to reinforce major regional conflicts.

Finally, Alternative III would make the biggest reduction of all the options in the size of the National Guard. It would eliminate a total of 79,900 people from the Guard, a cut of more than 20 percent. As a result, this alternative would have the largest negative impact on the number of Guard personnel that governors have available to deal with crises in their states and territories.
 

Alternative IV: Rely More Heavily on the Reserves to Fight a Second MRC

The last alternative that CBO considered would achieve significant savings by assuming that U.S. national security interests could be protected by a smaller active-duty Army. That assumption results from two premises: that there is little likelihood of a second MRC breaking out shortly after a first, and that even if one did, a couple of active divisions would suffice to provide a halting force for that conflict.

Some defense experts have argued that the United States does not need 5 1/3 divisions to fight each of the two threats most likely to challenge its security interests in the foreseeable future (see Box 1 in Chapter 2). Others have maintained that tactical aircraft could halt an enemy attack and weaken it enough that fewer--or less ready--ground forces would be needed to finish the job. Based on those theories, Alternative IV would use a smaller active-duty halting force in the event of a second MRC than previous options would. To supplement that force, it would rely on a greater number of combat units from the reserves.

As noted in the discussion of Alternative II, reserve combat units should have ample time to prepare for a second MRC because of the long time required to deliver Army equipment to two theaters overseas. However, under this option the Guard would contribute more forces for the second conflict than the six brigades assumed in Alternatives II and III. More Guard brigades could be available in time for the second MRC if some of them were light forces, if some were trained to lesser standards, or if the field commander could afford to wait until they were fully trained. In terms of numbers, the Army could call on nine of the Guard's 15 enhanced readiness brigades to make up part of the initial combat force for the second MRC and still have six ERBs in reserve for reinforcements.

The Army has devised a plan involving light brigades and limited training that would allow up to 10 ERBs to deploy in 160 days or less. Two of the 10 brigades would be light forces. They could train at separate, smaller training sites--since light units need less space to practice maneuvers than heavy units do--at the same time that the heavy brigades were being trained elsewhere. Two of the eight heavy brigades would be trained simultaneously with other heavy brigades at the same site, but to a proficiency adequate only for operations in the rear of the combat area. Those two brigades would not be ready to participate in direct combat at the end of the 160-day training period.

If the Army can meet that training schedule, the nine Guard ERBs needed for the initial combat force for the second conflict under this alternative could deploy overseas within 160 days of mobilization. (Of those nine brigades, six would be fully trained heavy brigades, two would be light brigades, and one would be a heavy brigade prepared only for rear-area operations.) Assuming 22 days for transit, that would allow the Guard to put nine brigades in the second theater within 182 days of mobilization. And assuming mobilization began as soon as the first conflict broke out, that means the nine brigades would be in the second theater 140 days after the start of the second conflict. In that case, the Guard would be providing more than half of the theater's 5 1/3-division combat force.

Changes in Force Structure

This alternative would eliminate three divisions from the active Army--two heavy divisions and one light infantry division--and four divisions from the Guard. Like most of the previous options, Alternative IV would rely on host-nation support and civilian contractors to provide the equivalent of 62,000 support troops for two MRCs. With such support, the Army would have no need to reorganize Guard combat units into support units, as it now plans. Alternative IV would instead eliminate 58,300 combat personnel from the National Guard.

This option would disband combat divisions in the active Army like the two previous alternatives, but its cuts would be larger (three active divisions rather than two). Unlike those alternatives, this option would not replace those combat units with an equal number of support personnel. All told, Alternative IV would eliminate more than 100,000 combat troops (44,000 from the active Army and 58,300 from the Guard), nearly as many as the Commission on Roles and Missions identified as excessive in its 1995 report. Disbanding three divisions would allow the Army to cut an additional 23,900 personnel indirectly associated with those divisions. As a result, the size of the active Army would shrink by 64,700 soldiers and the size of the Guard by 61,500.

Advantages

The main advantage of Alternative IV would be the significant savings it would produce (see Table 11). The Army could spend almost $5.3 billion less each year after 2010 by maintaining a smaller combat force ($3.9 billion less by having three fewer active divisions and $1.4 billion less by having four fewer Guard divisions). Of those savings, almost $3 billion would be direct savings and about $2.3 billion would represent indirect savings. By adopting this option, the Army would also avoid the costs associated with its own plan to reorganize Guard combat units into support units.
 


Table 11.
Average Annual Savings Under Alternative IV (In millions of 1997 dollars)
1998-2010 After 2010

Savings from Eliminating Three Active Divisions
Direct 1,800 2,150
Indirect 1,500 1,700
 
Savings from Eliminating Four Guard Divisions
Direct 700 800
Indirect 500 600
 
Total Savings 4,500 5,250
Direct 2,500 2,950
Indirect 2,000 2,300

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office.

Disadvantages

Although Alternative IV would generate more savings than any other option in this report, it would also entail more risks. Those risks include the ones associated with previous options, such as relying on forces outside the Army to provide support for major regional conflicts and calling on reservists to support even small operations in peacetime.

The largest risk, however, would probably come from significantly reducing the number of combat forces in the active Army and relying on the reserves to provide more than half of the combat brigades to fight a second major conflict. The risks of depending on Guard combat units that were discussed in Alternative II would be heightened in this option because it would cut active combat forces more deeply. Specifically, nine separate Guard brigades would not provide the same combat power or military experience as three active divisions. Moreover, coordinating and controlling the activities of the nine brigades might be difficult without the command structure associated with the divisions. Although the division configuration that the Army is studying--with three Guard brigades and an active-duty headquarters--might be able to command and control three of the Guard brigades, the other six would have to be attached to other divisions or a corps.

Even if those concerns could be addressed, dependence on Guard brigades for combat would create additional risks. Deploying the Guard brigades to the second theater could take longer than estimated because of delays in mobilization or training. If the authors of RAND's study on postmobilization training thought that training six brigades at three sites was risky, then training nine brigades at four sites in the same amount of time would be even riskier. Reducing that risk to the level assumed in Alternative II (by training the heavy brigades sequentially instead of simultaneously) could require at least 216 days. In that case, the last of the nine brigades would not be in theater until almost 240 days after the start of the first conflict, or almost 200 days after the start of the second. Such tardiness-- which late mobilization or longer training schedules would only exacerbate--would certainly delay the start of a counteroffensive because all support forces would already be in theater.

Some defense experts might argue that the cuts in Alternative IV are so large that they would limit the Army's ability to respond to major crises. With three fewer active divisions, the service would need nine Guard brigades to complete the initial combat force should a second conflict break out shortly after a first. But if the circumstances of the second conflict required a larger combat force than 5 1/3 divisions, it is questionable how many of the Guard's other six ERBs could be ready to participate, and if so, when. Furthermore, eliminating three divisions from the active Army and four divisions from the reserve component would leave the Army with only slightly more than 70 percent of its current combat forces.
 

Comparison of the Alternatives

Based on the criteria that CBO used, each of the alternatives in this report would have at least one advantage over the Army's plan. All of them (including the Army's plan) would cut at least 40,000 excess combat troops from the Army's force structure. Alternatives II and III would create more support forces in the active Army, thus reducing reliance on reserves in peacetime or early in a major regional conflict. Alternatives I, III, and IV would also reduce the amount of equipment that the Army would need to ship overseas to fight major conflicts. Finally, all of the options except Alternative II and the Army's plan would reduce the annual cost of the Army's force structure significantly.

All of CBO's alternatives would also entail more risk than the Army's plan, however. Alternatives I, III, and IV would save money in part by relying heavily on the support of allies during the conduct of MRCs. Those alternatives would also shrink the size of the National Guard, thus reducing the forces available to state and territorial governors for domestic emergencies. Finally, Alternatives II, III, and IV would cut active-duty combat forces, making the Army more dependent on reserve combat units to fight a second MRC.

Better Fit with Federal Missions

Today's Army contains too many combat forces and too few support forces compared with the numbers needed for the Army's federal missions. All of the alternatives, as well as the Army's plan, would eliminate some of the 110,000 excess combat troops identified by the Commission on Roles and Missions. Alternative IV would go farthest, reducing combat forces by more than 100,000, with cuts almost equally divided between the active Army and the National Guard. Alternative III would eliminate more than 91,000 combat forces, and Alternative I would cut 58,300 (all from the Guard). Alternative II would make the smallest reduction of all the alternatives: 48,000 combat troops--a cut similar to that in the Army's plan (see Figure 14).
 


Figure 14.
Army Forces Under Various Alternatives
Graph

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office.
a. Host-nation support and civilian contractors.

Only one of CBO's alternatives would increase Army support forces to counter the shortage identified by the Total Army Analysis 2003. Alternative II would create 48,000 additional support troops in the Army, a few thousand more than the Army's plan.

Quicker Response

All of the alternatives that CBO examined would allow the Army to carry out its federal missions more quickly. They would do so by making the Army less reliant on the reserve component for units that would deploy early to a major regional conflict, by reducing the amount of equipment that would have to be shipped overseas for such a conflict, or both.

Alternatives II and III would add 33,000 support forces to the active Army, thus reducing the number of reservists needed for an initial MRC by an equivalent number. As a result, those alternatives would have the added advantage of lessening the need for reserve support forces for small operations in peacetime.

Three of the options would shorten the time required to transport all of the Army's support equipment to a theater overseas. By relying on host nations and civilian contractors for some support services, Alternatives I, III, and IV would require less airlift and sealift to deploy Army forces to major conflicts overseas. The three alternatives would make the same reduction in the amount of equipment to be shipped: a cut of more than 6 million square feet in the case of an MRC in Korea and of almost 4 million square feet in the case of an MRC in the Middle East. Consequently, all U.S. forces could be in theater 10 days earlier than under the Army's plan for an initial conflict and 30 days earlier for a second conflict.

Savings

All of CBO's alternatives would cost less than the Army's plan in the long run, after all of the changes had been made. Three of them would also cost less than the Army's plan over the next 12 years (see Table 6). Alternative IV would reap the biggest long-term savings, almost $5.3 billion per year after 2010. Alternatives I and III would save considerably less, approximately $1.4 billion and $2.2 billion a year, respectively. Like the Army's plan, Alternative II would cost a total of almost $3 billion to implement, but it could eventually result in some small savings--about $100 million annually.

Fewer Forces for State Duty

Three of CBO's alternatives (I, III, and IV) would reduce the overall size of the National Guard and thus the number of personnel available to state and territorial governors in times of domestic crisis. The proposed reductions range in size from 62,000 to almost 80,000 people. Depending on how they were distributed across the country, such cuts could have a serious impact on the size of the Guard in some states.

A cut of 80,000 personnel would represent a reduction of more than 20 percent in the overall size of the Guard. Even though peak demands for state duties required no more than 6 percent of the National Guard's total personnel (including both the Air and Army Guard) between 1987 and 1995, disproportionate reductions could leave some states with not enough people to respond to particularly large domestic emergencies.

The Defense Department has suggested ways to address local Guard shortages that could occur in times of crisis.(12) One option would allow members of the Army Reserve to be used in a domestic emergency even without Presidential call-up if the President declared the emergency a federal disaster. As noted in Chapter 2, in the absence of a Presidential call-up, Reserve members are limited to 15 days of involuntary active duty a year--nearly all of which is taken up by the two weeks of annual training they must receive. Changing that situation would require amending existing law to allow the Secretary of the Army to call up reservists for longer than 15 days. Besides making personnel available, doing that would allow states to use Reserve equipment to help clean up after natural disasters.

A second approach, which could be pursued along with the first, would be to establish national or regional agreements under which states would share Guard assets. A national compact would ensure that all states had access to the Guard's special capabilities, such as its limited number of large cargo helicopters. A compact would also help guarantee an equitable sharing of resources among large and small states. At least one interstate Guard agreement already exists (between several southern states), but expanding such agreements to cover the whole country would provide the greatest access to the largest pool of resources.

Increased Risk

All of CBO's alternatives accept a higher level of risk in fighting two MRCs than the Army's plan does. The increased risk comes from two main sources: relying on host nations and civilian contractors to support MRCs rather than trying to eliminate the Army's current shortfall in support forces, and depending on National Guard units to make up part of the initial combat force for the second MRC because of cuts in the number of active-duty combat troops.

The risk associated with maintaining the Army's current level of support forces may not be a great one. Some defense experts have questioned whether the large number of support forces called for in the Total Army Analysis 2003 is truly necessary. The country's previous military experience would argue against needing that many. The amount of host-nation and contractor support assumed in Alternatives I, III, and IV is less than what some analysts estimate has been provided in the past in similar situations. Although there is a risk that such services would not be available in a future MRC, that risk is probably not very high.

Greater risks might be incurred by cutting active-duty combat forces, as Alternatives II, III, and IV would do. Such cuts would leave the Army without the 10 2/3 active divisions that it says it needs to conduct two MRCs nearly simultaneously. If a second conflict did occur, combat forces from the Guard would have to make up the balance. However, mobilization delays or insufficient resources for training could prevent the Army from having enough well-trained Guard brigades in theater in a timely fashion. Thus, relying on the Guard for initial combat troops would run the risk of slowing buildups, delaying counterattacks, or forcing commanders to operate with less than fully trained combat units.

Even if those problems failed to materialize, Alternatives II, III, and IV would provide less combat capability to the second conflict than the Army's plan would. Three Guard brigades would replace each active division eliminated, but they lack the artillery, aviation, and other supporting units typically found in a division. Nor do three separate brigades have as much ability to coordinate their maneuvers and operations as do brigades in a division, which are controlled by the division headquarters.

In addition, Alternatives II, III, and IV risk limiting the size and quality of reinforcements for a second MRC. The reason is that under those alternatives, the most ready combat brigades from the Guard would be needed to form the initial combat force. The enhanced readiness brigades left behind as reinforcements would presumably be less prepared for combat than the ones that deployed first. The Army's plan, by contrast, would use the Guard's most ready ERBs as reinforcements.

All of the risks associated with cutting active-duty combat forces would be felt most acutely under Alternative IV. It would eliminate three active divisions, compared with two under Alternatives II and III. As a result, Alternative IV would require the Guard to deploy nine initial combat brigades to a second MRC rather than six (see Table 6). That greater reliance on Guard units amplifies the risk that they would be late in deploying to the second theater or would not provide sufficient capability once there.

When assessing the total risk associated with any of these alternatives, readers need to weigh both support and combat forces. On that basis, Alternative I appears to be the least risky because, although it would rely on U.S. allies for some support, it would not lessen the number of active-duty combat forces. Alternative II, by contrast, would not rely on forces outside the Army for support but would cut active combat forces, thereby increasing dependence on combat units from the Guard. Alternative III or IV would carry all of the risks associated with the first two options. But because Alternative IV makes the largest cuts in active-duty combat forces (25 percent), it would be the riskiest of all.

Conclusions

CBO's alternatives illustrate different approaches that would generally entail increased risk in prosecuting a second conflict but that could either save the Army money or provide more support forces earlier for the first conflict, or both. Alternative I basically follows the Army's current philosophy by preserving a large active-duty combat force (although it would rely on allies and civilians to provide some support during a conflict, thus saving a large amount of money). The other options differ more sharply from the Army's current approach by relying on the Guard to provide some of the initial combat forces for a second MRC. Those alternatives will be more appealing to people who think that a second MRC is relatively unlikely or that the risks associated with the threats now facing the United States are not as great as the Administration suggests. Alternative IV carries the greatest risk and the greatest savings; Alternative II the least. Despite their various benefits and drawbacks, all of the approaches that CBO analyzed represent viable choices that differ from the Army's risk-averse but expensive plan for its force structure.


1. John C.F. Tillson and others, Review of the Army Process for Determining Force Structure Requirements (Alexandria, Va.: Institute for Defense Analyses, May 1996).

2. Ibid.

3. Brown and Root Service Corporation was the Army's LOGCAP contractor from 1992 until January 31, 1997. The Army awarded a five-year contract to DynCorporation Aerospace Technology to provide LOGCAP services until January 31, 2002.

4. Tillson and others, Review of the Army Process.

5. See Ronald E. Sortor, Army Active/Reserve Mix: Force Planning for Major Regional Contingencies (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1995), p. 31-39, for a discussion of the impact of mobilization delays on the availability of reserve support forces.

6. Deborah R. Lee, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, was quoted as saying that this goal would be met by 1999. See Kristin Patterson, "Lee, Full Guard Enhancement by 1999," Army Times, July 1, 1996, p. 25.

7. Sortor, Army Active/Reserve Mix, p. 45.

8. John C.F. Tillson and others, Reserve Component Roles, Mix, and Employment (Alexandria, Va.: Institute for Defense Analyses, May 1995).

9. Thomas F. Lippiatt and others, Postmobilization Training Resource Requirements (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1996).

10. The Army is planning to create a division in the National Guard that would include three enhanced readiness brigades and an active-component headquarters. That division would be well suited to participate in a second MRC since its brigades would be accustomed to working together and it would have a highly trained and ready command staff.

11. Like the Army's plan, Alternative II would send an additional six enhanced readiness brigades as reinforcements to the second MRC. If a total of 12 ERBs could not be ready in time to take part in that conflict, the total lift requirement to move Army equipment would decrease by some 3.6 million square feet. In that case, all forces could be assembled in the second theater about two weeks earlier.

12. See Department of Defense, Accessibility of Reserve Component Forces (April 18, 1994); and General Accounting Office, Reserve Forces: Proposals to Expand Call-Up Authorities Should Include Numerical Limitations, GAO/NSIAD-97-129 (April 1997).


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