Academic journal article Military Review

A More Flexible Army and a More Stable World

Academic journal article Military Review

A More Flexible Army and a More Stable World

Article excerpt

THE NATION'S CURRENT obsession with budget austerity along with the redeployment of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan is leading us to a more fiscally constrained environment and a desire to dramatically cut the end-strength of our Army. In addition, the nation's policy of a "Pacific pivot' is facing constraints based on the reality of the situation in Africa. Recent journal articles have discussed the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of a cyclic-based as opposed to a tier-based deployment model for long-term commitments.

The cyclic model (known as the Army Force Generation, or ARFORGEN model) allows units recently returned from deployment to turn in their equipment to other units (so they can deploy more quickly) and saves the Army large amounts of money on equipment costs. The traditional tier-based deployment model, in which forces expected to deploy quicker receive more funding than other forces, relegates the Army National Guard fewer resources, and limits it to an unused strategic reserve force (as was the case throughout the Cold War and into the 1990s). Of these two models, the tier-based deployment model costs significantly less but is not able to effectively support long-term commitments.

Since 2001, the National Guard has made it known that it will not allow itself to return to being an underfunded strategic reserve force. Their lobbying efforts have recently gained a seat at the table of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The establishment of a National Guard position on the Joint Chiefs should eliminate any vestigial beliefs that the Army can significantly decrease National Guard funding.

Meanwhile, as the war in Iraq has ended and the war in Afghanistan is in its closing stages, the issue of what our Army should train for has arisen. Typically phrased as "fighting the last war," the question is whether or not the training of our forces and our doctrine should focus on counterinsurgency or high-intensity conflicts. The Army's budgetary limits are central to the debates on training strategy and the feasibility of the ARFORGEN model.

The advantages and disadvantages of both a purely tier-based and a purely cyclic-based deployment model have been addressed in other articles. I am proposing a third approach, dedicating all Army National Guard brigade combat teams (but not maneuver enhancement brigades) to an enduring cyclic-based deployment model focused solely on low-intensity conflict. (1) Such a move would entail splitting the Active Component's brigades into a hybrid deployment model, blending principles of the tier- and cyclical-deployment philosophies. The Active Component would be comprised of two groups of brigade combat teams. One group would be 10 brigade combat teams focused solely on low-intensity conflict: three infantry brigade combat teams (IBCTs) and seven Stryker brigade combat teams (SBCTs). The other group of 26 IBCTs and armored brigade combat teams (ABCTs) would be devoted only to high-intensity conflicts.

The Active Component's low-intensity conflict brigades (normally, the 1st BCT of each division) would work on a tier-based model as expeditionary brigades immediately deploying, regardless of whether a conflict was high-intensity or low. (See below for their role in a high-intensity conflict). Once mobilization and movement of Army National Guard brigades was complete, the Army National Guard's low-intensity conflict brigades would either relieve or supplement the Active Component brigades, based on the projected time-length and scope of the mission. For example, in situations such as humanitarian relief, the Active Component brigades would return to home station immediately, whereas in a situation such as Iraq after the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom, they would remain in theater and continue operations until relieved by another brigade in a cyclical fashion. Finally, this plan allows for 9 brigades of the Active Component would be inactivated, leaving 36 brigade combat teams in the Active Component. …

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