by Jim Caldwell
WASHINGTON, D.C. (TRADOC News Service, June 9, 1998) -- The Army's new heavy division will still be the most lethal combat force in the world even though it will have fewer soldiers and armored vehicles.
The announcement of the new division design by Gen. William W. Hartzog, commander of Training and Doctrine Command Tuesday, June 9, put the Army's official stamp of approval on the new organization. The decision follows almost four years of analysis and experimentation that involved several thousand soldiers in the Army's major commands.
"Today is an important day in the Army's history," said Gen. Dennis J. Reimer, Army chief of staff. "The new division design is one of our key milestones as we prepare for the 21st century. We have developed a division that is strategically deployable, agile, flexible and the type of decisive, full-spectrum force we will need in the 21st century."
"By far the most significant change is the command and control apparatus in the new division," said Hartzog, who oversaw the Force XXI process that selected the new division design.
"This is a near paperless operation in that most of the information passes back and forth at the speed of computers," he said.
That information exchange, built on a digital communications framework, will allow the new division to cover about three times the area on the battlefield as today's division, according to Hartzog.
Situational awareness will be obtained through links with satellites, the Air Force's Joint Surveillance Tactical Acquisition Radar System aircraft, as well as Army sources.
"There's a brigade reconnaissance troop that's never existed before ... mounted in armored Humvees with some very good devices for ground intelligence collection," Hartzog said.
Information will be distributed over a digital communications network. Speed of communications will allow maneuver commanders to move faster and concentrate their fires more efficiently than before.
In 2000 the new division will be comprised of 15,302 active duty soldiers. Another 417 reserve component soldiers integrate into the division when it's deployed. Today's Army of Excellence division has about 18,000 soldiers.
Less, newer armor in 2000
The Army XXI division will have three maneuver brigades -- one armored and two mechanized infantry. The armored brigade will have two armored battalions and one mechanized; mechanized brigades will be two mechanized battalions and one armored. A battalion will have three companies versus four in the current division.
Each armored battalion will be equipped with 45 modernized M1A2 Abrams tanks and mechanized battalions will have 45 new M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Both systems are due for delivery in fiscal year 2000. Today's battalions have 58 M1A1 Abrams and 58 M2A2 Bradleys respectively.
"The design that we have right now is still an interim design, but it's the design that we'll begin planning on putting together as the 4th Infantry Division (Fort Hood, Texas) in a deployable state," Hartzog said. "It's probably not precisely the way that division will be in the year 00. If there's a smart or good thing that develops before then, we'll take heed of it and use it."
Individual soldiers should also be equipped to plug into the digital communications systems in 2000, the general said.
The division to be fielded in 2000 will not have all the systems with onboard digital communications capability. It should be fully equipped by 2010.
At that time aviation attack and aviation support battalions will have 15 AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopters, 33 UH-66 Comanches and 24 UH-60 Blackhawks.
When the division is fully digitized, it will create a "collaborative virtual environment." CVE will also give commanders separated by great distances the ability to talk through video telecommunications.
"Can situational awareness make a tank shoot farther or go any faster? No," said Col. Al Turner, director of TRADOC's Joint Venture office. "But it can move to the right place on the battlefield more efficiently because it knows definitely where it is and how to get to the new location."
In today's tactics all of a battalion's 58 tanks would not normally be used to engage an enemy force anyway, he said. A commander can't be sure of the location of all enemy forces so he "hedges" by using a portion of his formation to guard other approaches.
"Now you've got better visibility over the battlefield, you don't have to worry about that other direction any more. Now he can focus all of his energy in one direction," Turner said.
The current Army of Excellence division has served the Army since 1984. It was created to win against Warsaw Pact forces. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 the 18,000-man divisions have become too costly to maintain in an era of dwindling resources.
Threats to the nation still exist, however, though they are more unpredictable. The Army XXI division will be more tailorable to be successful in a variety of missions anywhere in the world.
Work began on developing a new division in 1994 at the direction of Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, then Army chief of staff. About a year later, the effort came under the direction of the Joint Venture program. One of Joint Venture's aims was to involve the entire Army in the process of change, called Force XXI.
Developers began with 11 possible alternatives to the AOE heavy division. Some had been looked at in previous studies, and some were somewhat radical in approach according to Bill Robertson, deputy director of TRADOC's deputy chief of staff for combat developments force design directorate (FDD) at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
"Some of them were fairly radical ... like either getting rid of the corps completely or getting rid of the division completely, or getting rid of the company and going from platoon to battalion," he said.
All of the possibilities were subjected to intense virtual and constructive simulations, according to Hartzog. The TRADOC Analytical Command at Fort Leavenworth also performed in-depth analysis on information gathered from the simulations.
An interim division design was settled on in 1996. The 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, was selected as the Force XXI Experimental Force. Its 1st Brigade was reconfigured in the interim division organization and outfitted with new weapons systems, digital communications and doctrine.
In the Task Force Advanced Warfighting Experiment in March 1997 at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., the brigade was successful against NTC's opposing force. That success was attributed, in part, to increased situational awareness provided by digital communications.
A version of the new division, called the conservative heavy division, was tested through simulation at the Division AWE at Fort Hood in November 1997.
"Based on the results of the Task Force AWE, DAWE, TRAC and proponent analysis, and professional judgment, the Force XXI council of colonels reviewed the operational and organizational concept and division design, making recommendations on adjustments to the division design," said Col. John Twohig, FDD director.
Then general officers sitting on several different panels provided to the Board of Directors -- made up of senior Army leaders -- the "optimal" Force XXI division design, Twohig said.
"We're dealing with distributed operations, distribution rather than supply-based logistics, information dominance and a variety of other changes that make the Force XXI concept and division significantly different than the Army of Excellence division," he said.
Combat Service Support
The ability of maneuver commanders to cover greater distances on the battlefield much faster than ever before presented a challenge to combat service support forces.
"To achieve that agility and mobility we had to get rid of all of those stocks that we carry around with us on the battlefield," said Col. John D. Kennedy, vice director of the Combat Service Support Battle Lab at Fort Lee, Va. "We had to change our logistics concepts so that we could keep up with maneuver commanders and allow them to maintain their momentum."
Supplies will be moved in a pipeline from the manufacturer to the theater port and then "right up to the foxhole where it really counts." That is a change from supply-based support to a distribution-based system, which is a revolution in military logistics at the tactical level, according to Kennedy.
Control of CSS has been moved from maneuver battalion commanders to the CSS chain of command. The armor and mechanized brigades each have a forward support battalion (FSB) to provide logistical support. Each maneuver battalion has a forward support company carrying out a similar mission.
"Because of situational awareness, the forward support battalion commander is much more able to anticipate the requirements of the supported maneuver commander and begin pulling CSS capabilities through the logistics pipeline," Kennedy said.
"Even before the brigade commander realizes he needs it, the logistician should have already anticipated that requirement," he said. "The same thing is repeated down at the maneuver battalion level with the relationship between the forward support company commander and the maneuver battalion commander."
A forward support company will have maintenance as well as supply capabilities.
"Our first objective was to allow the maneuver battalion commander to focus on the warfight and not be distracted by the combat service support responsibilities," Kennedy said.
There are several "enablers" that make the CSS concept work. One is the CSS Control System, which is part of the division's Army Tactical Command and Control System (ATCCS) that provides a common picture to all commanders in the division.
Another is the Mobility Tracking System.
"MTS provides us an ability to see logistics capability as it's moving through the logistics pipeline," Kennedy said. "That capability might be inbound to one FSB but another FSB may need it more strongly and the division leadership could divert it while it is en route."
Still in the development stage is a Forward Repair System, Heavy (FRSH) vehicle, equipped with a crane capable of lifting an engine from a tank. Presence of the FRSH should eliminate the current tendency to use the M-88 recovery vehicle for lift and allow it to be used for its primary mission -- recovery, Kennedy said.
Mechanics will replace equipment components forward to "keep the vehicle in the fight" and "fix" in the rear. To help that concept become a reality, the most basic enabler will be "multi-capable" mechanics.
"That is a mechanic who can do both organization and direct support level repairs on combat systems," Kennedy said. "It's a mechanic who's got a broader range of skills and is capable of completing direct support repairs forward on the battlefield."
After the 4th Infantry Division is digitized and reorganized in the new design, it will continue to have a developmental mission. In 2003, its sister unit, the 1st Cavalry Division, will also be digitized. A year later, III Corps, both divisions' parent command, will have digitized command and control systems.
Army leaders will have two years to make the 4th Infantry Division deployable. However, the heavy division will not be the only modernized force in Army XXI.
"We've already begun turning our attention to the light force. I think you'll see that by this summer it'll be in full swing," Hartzog said.
Key roles in the development of the Army XXI light division will be played by the U.S. Army Infantry Center, Fort Benning, Ga., and Forces Command's XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Soldiers in the corps' 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., are scheduled to do most of the experimentation. However, the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, and the 101st Air Assault Division, Fort Campbell, Ky., will have major roles in building the light infantry division for the 21st century.
"Some of what we're going to do with the light forces in this next year will be possible because of what we learned at Fort Hood with the heavy division," Hartzog said.
Investigations into a "strike force" have also begun. The Strike Force will be small -- 5,000 soldiers or less -- fast and lethal, and could be deployed to a combat theater in five days or less.
The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Polk, La., is expected to be officially assigned by this summer to conduct Strike Force experimentation, just as the 4th Infantry Division did with Force XXI.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Caldwell is a senior journalist with TRADOC's public affairs office.)