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  • Chad Christopher Rediker

What is an Army Division

By GlobalSecurity - Division

The Army consists of four corps and 18 divisions. In the active Army, there are ten divisions: two forward deployed in Europe, one in Korea, one in Hawaii, and six in the continental United States. The remaining eight are Army National Guard Divisions. The U.S. Army had 28 Divisions - 18 active and 10 National Guard – in 1991. Eight Army divisions were deployed to the Persian Gulf, just as eight Army divisions had been deployed to Korea four decades earlier. The Reagan administration boosted the Army from 14 to 16 divisions during the mid-1980s. The division is the Army’s largest tactical organization that trains and fights as a combined arms team. It is a self-sustaining force capable of independent operations. The division is composed of varying numbers and types of combat, combat support, and combat service support units. The mix and types of combat units determine whether a division is armored, mechanized, infantry light infantry, airborne, or air assault. Divisions are fixed combined arms organizations of eight to 11 maneuver battalions, three to four field artillery battalions, and other combat, combat support, and combat service support units. They are capable of performing any tactical mission, and designed to be largely self-sustaining. Divisions are the basic units of maneuver at the tactical level, and possess great flexibility. They tailor their brigades and attached forces for specific combat missions. The division base, which is essentially the same in all types of divisions, includes the command and control, reconnaissance, combat support such as air defense, intelligence, aviation, signal, engineers, and combat service support elements. Divisions are normally commanded by Major Generals. Capable of performing any tactical mission and designed to be largely self-sustaining, divisions are the basic units of maneuver at the tactical level. Divisions possess great flexibility. They tailor their brigades and attached forces for specific combat missions. Their combat support and combat service support battalions and separate companies may be attached to or placed in support of brigades for the performance of a particular mission. Divisions perform major tactical operations for the corps and can conduct sustained battles and engagements. They almost never direct actions at the operational level (campaigns or major operations), but they may be used by corps to perform tasks of operational importance. These may include exploiting tactical advantages to seize objectives in depth, moving to gain contact with enemy forces, or moving by air to seize objectives behind an enemy force. The Army’s organizational concept embraces six types of divisions - infantry, light infantry, mechanized infantry, armored, airborne, and air assault. The divisions are formed by adding a varying number and mixtures of combat maneuver battalions-infantry, light infantry, mechanized infantry, tank, airborne, or air assault-to a common division base. The division base, which is essentially the same in all types of divisions, includes the command and control, reconnaissance, combat support such as artistry, air defense, intelligence, aviation, signal, engineers, and combat service support element. Among the command and control elements are brigade headquarters which control the tactical operations of several attached maneuver battalions as determined by the division commander. Light forces – airborne, air assault, and light infantry divisions – are tailored for forcible-entry operations and for operations on restricted terrain, like mountains, jungles, and urban areas. Heavy forces – armored and mechanized divisions equipped with Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Apache attack helicopters, and the Paladin field artillery system – are trained and equipped for operations against armies employing modern tanks and armored fighting vehicles. Light and heavy forces can operate independently or in combination, providing the mix of combat power needed for specific contingencies. Combat service support is provided by a Division Support Command (DISCOM). It provides supply, transportation, field maintenance, medical support, and administrative services to the division. DISCOMs are organized differently to best satisfy the support needs of each division. Divisions are supported administratively and logistically by Corps Support Commands (COSCOM) which are responsible for the centralized management of supplies, maintenance, and movement of personnel and materiel beyond the capability of the divisions. The theater Army, combining several principles of modern service management and automatic baa processing, completes the functional organization a all levels. This ensures the maximum degree of responsiveness, efficiency, and economy in providing combat service support. The Division Support Command [DISCOM] is the source of division-level logistics and HSS in the division. Although the division stresses area support, the DISCOM also provides CSS on a unit support basis and a task-support basis. The DISCOM, when augmented as required, may furnish area support to non-divisional units in the division area. Unit support is designated to a unit or units such as a maneuver brigade. In task support, the DISCOM furnishes a specific type or amount of a DISCOM element’s support capability to designated units or an area to accomplish identified tasks. Communications systems are essential for gathering and disseminating data. Personnel need them to plan and execute operations. Commanders use them to perform C2 functions and to supervise performance. In FY 90 the Army had six armored (four active component and two reserve component) and eight mechanized (six active component and two reserve component) divisions. An armored division was removed from the active component in FY 91. On 15 September 1991, the 2d Armored Division stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, was dropped from the active force, although formal inactivation was postponed until a future date. The 2d Brigade, 2d Armored Division, was inactivated in August 1990. The division’s 1st Brigade, the famed “Tiger Brigade,” attached to US Marine Corps forces during Operation DESERT STORM, was inactivated on 20 May 1991, and the officers and men became the 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The 3d Brigade, 2d Armored Division, remained in Germany and had not been officially redesignated and assigned to another unit by the end of FY 91. Another heavy unit, the 2d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), was inactivated on 15 December 1989 as part of the budget cuts required under the QUICKSILVER program. The 4th Infantry Division was targeted for the cut since it was the only heavy division in CONUS with three brigades. To compensate for the loss, the division was assigned the 116th Cavalry Brigade of the Idaho National Guard as a roundout brigade (Table 3). QUICKSILVER also caused a restructuring of the separate 194th Armored Brigade to a 1,068-man, armor-heavy task force that consisted of a headquarters and headquarters company, three armor companies, two mechanized infantry companies, a reserve component armor company, a field artillery battery, a supply and transport company, and a support battalion headquarters and headquarters detachment. The restructuring was completed on 30 September 1990. On 16 December 1992 when the Army inactivated the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and transferred its personnel and equipment to the 2d Armored Division. Except for a brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, only the Headquarters, 2d Armored Division, had been active (at zero strength) since the end of FY 1991. The resources from the 5th Division’s two inactivated brigades were used to activate the 2d Armored Division’s two remaining maneuver brigades at Fort Polk. These two brigades prepared for a move and a permanent change of station to join their sister brigade, because the entire division is scheduled to be stationed at Fort Hood. By the end of FY 1993 the Army consisted of 4 corps, 14 active Army divisions, and 8 National Guard divisions. The Secretary of Defense’s October 1993 Bottom-Up Review (BUR) recommended that the Army continue to reduce to ten fully organized active Army divisions. The BUR also recommended cutting reserve component force structure to five divisions and thirty-seven combat brigades. Fifteen of these brigades would be “enhanced” to increase readiness and improve their ability to deploy throughout the world. Following the BUR, the Army reorganized its active combat division structure. Two division headquarters were eliminated, thus reducing the number of active divisions from 12 to 10 as specified in the BUR. Another significant change was that the Army discontinued its reliance on reserve component “round-up” or “round-out” units to bring the active divisions to full combat strength for wartime deployment. Instead, the Army determined that each of the remaining 10 combat divisions would comprise 3 fully active ground maneuver brigades. This decision was endorsed by the Secretary of Defense during development of the BUR out of concern that relying on reserve brigades could slow down a U.S. response to aggression. Therefore, as a result of the BUR, only two active maneuver brigades were eliminated from Army force structure – 12 combat divisions with a combined total of 32 active brigades were reduced to 10 divisions with 30 active brigades. Also, the Army decided that all 10 remaining divisions would be authorized 100 percent of their wartime military personnel requirement. Three Army divisions were reflagged as the Army restructured from 12 to 10 active divisions. The 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, was redesignated as the 4th Infantry Div., and the 24th Inf. Div. was redesignated as the 3rd Inf. Div. The 3rd Inf. Div., stationed in Germany, was redesignated as the 1st Inf. Div. The redesignations occured during fiscal 1996. The Army’s restructuring plan was announced in December 1994. It called for the inactivation of the headquarters and division support units of the 1st Inf. Div. at Fort Riley, Kan., and the 4th Inf. Div. at Fort Carson, Colo. The redesignation plan ensured that two of the Army’s most famous and decorated divisions remain in the active force. The plan designating the divisions to remain was developed by the U.S. Army Center of Military History, which maintains records of Army unit lineage and honors. The center prepared an order-of-precedence list based on unit age, campaign participation, and awards and decorations. Units were then rank-ordered by category, providing a framework for the Army leadership to make its decision. In late 1994 Secretary of the Army Togo D. West Jr. and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan announced a plan to restructure the Army to encompass 10 active-duty divisions. The plan, implemented over two years, was directed by the October 1993 Bottom-Up Review. It represents the final phase in the Army’s post-Cold War drawdown, stabilizing the force at 495,000 active-duty soldiers by the end of fiscal year 1996. It is one step in a journey that really began in 1989 to bring the Army down from 18 active divisions to 10, and 10 National Guard divisions to eight, and from 780,000 active-duty soldiers to 495,000. The new 10-division Army consists of four light divisions and six heavy divisions, all stationed at existing installations. Light divisions to remain in the force were the 10th Mountain Div. at Fort Drum, N.Y.; the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii; the 82nd Airborne Div. at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 101st Abn. Div. at Fort Campbell, Ky. Three heavy divisions were stationed in the United States, two in Germany and one in South Korea. At Fort Riley, Kan., the 1st Inf. Div. headquarters and divisional troop units were inactivated. The two brigades remained at Fort Riley, aligned with the two divisions in Germany. At Fort Carson, Colo., the 4th Inf. Div. headquarters, divisional unit troops and one brigade were inactivated. The other brigade remained at Fort Carson under the command of the 2nd Armored Div., which had been designated the Army’s Experimental Force. Command and control for stateside units whose divisional headquarters are overseas was split between the division and U.S. Forces Command. FORSCOM provided day-to-day administrative control while the division provides the training focus. Two successful precedents for split-base divisions were set by the 1st Inf. Div. and 2nd Armd. Div., CONUS-based divisions with forward brigades based in Germany. Division XXI (DXXI) is the force designed to remain decisive in land warfare and optimized for mid to high intensity spectrum of conflict into the 21st Century. DXXI is the division design needed to serve as the core force essential for force cohesion and dominance to meet the demands in performing offensive and defensive operations in the expanded Division Battle Space of the future. The Standard Heavy Division is structured today at 18,069 (Mechanized Variant) and 17,832 (Armor Variant). The new division will be structured at 15,812 for the Mechanized Division Variant (15,299 AC, 515 RC) and 15,593 for the Armor Division Variant (15,080 AC, 515 RC). DXXI reduces Abrams and Bradley systems from 58 to 44 per battalion. Additionally, the increase to 3 squads with 9 infantrymen each (total 27) per platoon significantly enhances the fighting capability of mechanized infantry organizations. The 4th ID is designated as the Experimental Force (EXFOR) and serves as the Army’s experimental testbed for new ideas on organization, doctrine, and equipment and testing information age technology. The 4th ID (-) was digitized by the end of CY00, 1st CAV by FY03, 3rd ACR and the First Digitized Corps (III Corps) by FY04. The 4th Infantry Division (ID) at Fort Hood, TX, is one of three divisions and a corps slated to be digitized. The first digitized corps will be III Corps. In 2003, the 1st Cavalry Division, also at Fort Hood, will become the second digitized division. By 2004, III Corps, parent command for the 4th ID and 1st Cavalry, will be digitized. That includes the corps support command and other “corps slices.” The 3d Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA, will be digitized as resources become available. Fiscal constraints would permit only the cavalry squadron and one brigade in each division to be outfitted with embedded digitized ground maneuver systems (M1A2 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and selected enhancement programs). The other brigades’ equipment will have applique digitized systems. As the divisions are being digitized, they will retain their warfighting responsibilities. The 4th ID became the Army’s Experimental Force in 1995. Its 1st Brigade become Task Force XXI and was outfitted with digital communications systems, new equipment and new weapons systems.

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