The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 69/No. 8           February 28, 2005  
U.S. Army undergoes ‘most significant change since 1939’
“This is the most significant change of your Army since 1939,” Gen. Richard Cody, deputy to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, told the U.S. House Armed Services Committee February 2.

Cody was referring to the restructuring of the U.S. armed forces as part of Washington’s accelerated preparations to enter the imperialist war in Europe and go to war with Japan. Between 1939 and December 1941, when the Roosevelt administration declared war on Tokyo simultaneous with Germany’s declaration of war against the United States, the size of the U.S. Army was increased from 125,000 to 1.64 million. During the war itself, the figure soared to 8.3 million. At the same time, the U.S. Navy ordered a major expansion of ship construction and established the first Atlantic patrol, while the numbers of sailors and officers jumped tenfold to 3 million. And the Army Air Corps, later the Air Force, began a similar enlargement.

Cody’s speech, titled “On Adequacy of the Army Forces,” focused on a number of aspects of a historic shift in the global deployment of Washington’s armed forces, its military strategy, and its order of battle—what the Pentagon refers to as the “transformation” of the U.S. military. Championed by the White House and pushed forward by the Department of Defense, this transformation aims at preparing for the character of wars the U.S. imperialist rulers are fighting and know they need to fight under the banner of “antiterrorism.”

Underscoring the changing character, geographic scope, and accelerated frequency of U.S. imperialism’s military operations during the last three administrations, Cody pointed out: “From 1950 to 1989 the size of the total Army ranged from 64 Divisions during the Korean War, to 40 Divisions during the Vietnam War, to 28 (18 Active Component and 10 National Guard) Divisions when the Cold War ended. During this 39-year period, the Army participated in 10 distinct operations including those in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and Grenada…. In the 14 years since the end of the Cold War (1989 to 2003), the size of the total Army further decreased from 28 Divisions to 18 Divisions; however, the operating tempo increased dramatically as the Army answered this nation’s call in 57 distinct operations…including Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti, Macedonia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, as well as commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, and many other locations.”

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, “the largest and longest operations in which the Army has participated since the Vietnam War,” Cody said, have required accelerating the transformation of the military’s organizational structure away from the heavy-division, and heavy-armor based forces designed to confront similarly organized and equipped forces of the Soviet Union.

The goal of the transformation is a lighter, more mobile, and flexible brigade-based military that is better suited to fight the kinds of wars U.S. imperialism decides to pursue abroad as well as at home. Cody said the U.S. military would get its first look at how units organized along these lines perform as new deployments arrive in Iraq in the next troop rotation.  
Refitting to fight ‘war on terror’
In addition to the operations abroad, soldiers are “supporting Homeland Security and providing Military Support to Civil Authorities for many different missions within the United States,” Cody told the Congressional committee. This is part of the Army’s changing deployment—or “footprint” in military jargon—which now also includes the United States.

According to the general, the U.S. Army has over 1 million soldiers today. To meet potential operational needs, just over half of these forces, or 650,000 troops, are on active duty. Some 300,000 soldiers are deployed in 120 countries.

Cody gave an example of how the old organizational structure of the Army places some specialized units at risk under combat conditions today. There is a force imbalance involving combat-support and combat-service-support units, 60 percent of which are now in the Guard and Reserve, he said. “In the past,” he noted, “our doctrine called for these units to operate in ‘rear areas’ where threats were historically minimal. This doctrine led to a resource strategy in some cases where combat-support or combat-service-support units would have less modern equipment in fewer quantities so that the combat formations could have full amounts of the latest technology.” This is now changing.

“Before 9/11, the Army was already on a course to realize its transformation, but at a very deliberate pace and in a much more constrained resource environment,” Cody said. “Clearly, the War on Terrorism accentuated the Army’s need to transform.”

Since 9/11, the Army has spent billions equipping all units with the newest technology and shedding weapons programs aimed at fighting conventional wars. One of the best examples of this change, Cody said, “can be found in our cancellation of the Comanche helicopter program and the Crusader artillery system,” which were aimed at fighting battles envisioned during the Cold War. Funds saved from these cuts, the general continued, have been diverted to the current fleet of helicopters, such as those being used in Iraq now, and “missile avoidance systems and upgraded avionics.”

These changes were fueled by “the unpredictable nature of the Iraqi insurgency,” Cody pointed out. Irregular units fighting the U.S. occupation forces with shoulder-fired missiles and other such arms have brought down a number of U.S. Army helicopters in the last two years.

“Army transformation has four primary goals,” Cody said.

The first is “restructuring from a division-based to a brigade-based force. These brigades are designed as modules, or self-sufficient and standardized brigade combat teams, that can be more readily deployed and combined with other Army and joint forces to meet the precise needs of Combatant Commanders.”

The 33 existing U.S. Army brigades are being restructured into about 45 faster, more mobile, more lethal, light-armored brigades called Brigade Combat Teams, or Units of Action. The announced goal is to be able by 2010 to put a combat-ready brigade into action anywhere in the world within 96 hours, a full division within 120 hours, and five divisions (some 75,000 troops) within 30 days. Substantial powers of command are being devolved from the division to the brigade level, including joint command, as needed, across all four branches—Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force.

The percentage of the Army involved in ongoing military operations will increase substantially with regular troop rotation and integration of units from the Army Reserve and the National Guard in deployments abroad, Cody said.

“This program, which we call modularity, will increase the combat power of the Active Component by 30 percent as well as the size of the Army’s overall pool of available forces by over 50 percent,” he told the House committee. “The total number of combat brigades will increase with 10 active brigades (three-and-a-third divisions in our old terms) being added by the end of 2006.”

One of the criticisms by liberal opponents of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq is that the defense department has deployed too few troops in Iraq and has created a “backdoor” draft by extending tours of duty.

Reserve soldiers make up 48 percent of Army troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cody said. Army Reserve soldiers provide “warfighter critical transportation, maintenance, and supply elements,” he added. The military’s aim is to reduce this portion to 36 percent, which is related to the next goal of the Army’s transformation.

“Second, we are rebalancing our active and reserve forces to produce more units with the skills in highest demand,” Cody said. “Even before the War on Terror, the imbalance caused us to reach too deep and frequently into the Reserve Component to support our National Security Strategy. The Army has already changed over 40,000 of over 100,000 soldier positions identified to appropriately balance capabilities in the Active and Reserve Components. The realignment will produce a 50 percent increase in infantry capabilities, with similar increases in military police, civil affairs, intelligence, and other critical skills.”

“Third,” Cody continued, “the Army is stabilizing soldiers within units for longer periods to increase combat readiness, cohesion, reduce turnover, and eliminate many repetitive training requirements.” Soldiers would arrive and train together at their initial base for roughly three years. “With fewer soldiers and families moving,” said Cody, “more soldiers will be available on any given day to train or to fight while improving quality of life for our soldiers and their families by increasing the predictability of deployments and other requirements.”

Finally, the general said, “We are divesting functions no longer relevant and reengineering business processes to increase responsiveness to the Combatant Commanders.”

Washington’s ongoing military operations are indispensable to implementing these changes, Cody concluded, and the military’s transformation is being carried out smoothly while the U.S. armed forces are fighting abroad. “A year ago we conducted the largest movement of your Army since World War II, moving eight and a half divisions in and out of combat,” he told the Congressional committee. “That movement barely made the papers, and we are doing it again today.”  
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