Soldiers from the 18th Airborne Corps board an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III. The division is maintaining its global response posture amid a retooling of regional alignment. This year, regionally aligned soldiers will take part in 5,640 activities in 162 countries. (Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson / Air Force)
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Army units that have been aligned to world regions:
■ 1st Calvary Division, aligned with U.S. Africa Command.
■ 25th Infantry Division, aligned with U.S. Pacific Command.
■ 1st Armored Division, aligned with U.S. Central Command.
■ 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division, aligned with U.S. European Command.
■ 48th BCT from the Georgia Army National Guard, aligned with U.S. Southern Command.
■ The 18th Airborne Corps will maintain its global response posture.
Roughly 60,000 soldiers have been tapped to cover a variety of global missions — and any problems that may arise — in five regions throughout fiscal 2014.
The designated units are:
■ 1st Calvary Division, aligned with U.S. Africa Command. Army leadership expects 4,500 soldiers to conduct 600 activities in 43 countries. “Activities” is the umbrella term used to cover everything from training and exercises to combat and contingency missions.
■ 25th Infantry Division, aligned with U.S. Pacific Command, where 7,300 soldiers will conduct 230 activities in 20 countries.
■ 1st Armored Division, aligned with U.S. Central Command, where 8,700 soldiers will conduct 440 activities in 18 countries.
■ 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division, aligned with U.S. European Command. But it won’t be alone. A combined 14,500 soldiers will conduct 930 activities in 59 countries.
■ 48th BCT from the Georgia Army National Guard, aligned with U.S. Southern Command, where 3,900 soldiers are scheduled to conduct 260 activities in 18 countries.
And that is just the beginning. Army leadership said another 20,000 soldiers will be involved in 3,000 unspecified activities. U.S. Northern Command will also tap 1,100 soldiers for 180 activities in four countries.
The 18th Airborne Corps will maintain its global response posture.
In case you lost count, that’s 5,640 activities in 162 countries — in one year.
Units in this regional alignment will serve in direct support of regional combatant commanders.
But don’t expect to sit around waiting for a call for help. Soldiers will conduct hundreds of missions from joint exercises and partnership training to quick-reaction forces and humanitarian assistance.
Much of it will be expeditionary in nature, as “Big Army” won’t have a headquarters set up down the road.
Expect to deploy in company-size or smaller units. And the bulk of your training will be at home station and focus on the “human dimension” of warfare.
The newly announced regional alignments complement those announced when the Army assigned units to assignments in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, India, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Everything you know about deployments is about to change.
What you can expect
By now, you’ve probably heard the catchphrases used to describe the Army for which military and congressional leaders are looking: One that is “operationally adaptable,” “scalable and tailorable,” one that can respond to a “broad spectrum” with “flexibility and agility.”
If you want to know what that means, look to the 2nd Armored BCT, 1st ID. The “Dagger Brigade” and its 4,000 soldiers became the first to deploy under regional alignment this year. Since then, roughly 1,800 soldiers have supported more than 300 events at various times and various durations, said Brig. Gen. Kimberly Field, deputy director of Strategy, Plans and Policy, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7.
The missions have included training support in Mali, Niger and Uganda. But there also remains a 129-man quick-reaction force sent in response to the Benghazi attacks in Libya.
The Army will deploy 4,338 soldiers to support 662 activities in 34 countries by Oct. 1. The largest scheduled commitment will send 480 people to an exercise in South Africa. In contrast, 22 will deploy to training support in Niger.
The 1st Calvary Division, which will assume this mission, can expect to add proactive missions designed to prevent terrorist safe havens in ungoverned areas, officials said.
The division’s 1st BCT will cover Europe and serve as the NATO Response Force. Formations there have been cut by about 10,000 soldiers, and V Corps will stand down by this summer.
With no tanks remaining in Germany, the alignment of the 1st Armored Division to U.S. Central Command may seem a head-scratcher. But keep in mind that hotbeds such as Egypt, Iran and Syria fall under that theater.
The 48th BCT is preparing to send the first 166 soldiers to Guatemala, where they will mentor and advise military forces on control operations, logistics, communications and small-unit tactics, said Col. Carlton Day, Army National Guard Mobilization and Readiness Branch chief.
And the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division will be responsible for the Pacific theater, which has the world’s attention. The Army has dedicated 79,000 troops there, put a four-star general in charge and conducted more than 120 events this year, most with a close eye on North Korea.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told Army Times in May that he may consider using rotational forces in South Korea this year.
Regional alignment will take approximately five years to fully implement, Field said. The final design will include a “habitual alignment” between geographic combatant commands and a joint task force-capable division or Corps headquarters. For example, the 1st Armored Division is aligned to U.S. Central Command and 1st Cavalry Division is aligned to U.S. Africa Command.
“Eventually, we think Third Corps will be habitually aligned with CENTCOM, and another division headquarters will be habitually aligned with AFRICOM,” Field said. “We have some idea how this alignment will sort out in the future, but we’re really not ready to have that reported yet.”
The design is not without its drawbacks or detractors.
Some old soldiers are worried about a return to the unit favoritism. Prior to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, units that supported Pacific Command and CENTCOM got the lion’s share of money and gear, while others were left to fight for the scraps. Service leaders have promised not to repeat errors of the past. While the training and equipping of units is taking a nosedive due to sequestration and other budget issues, every unit in the deployment cycle has been approved to get everything it needs.
On the strategic level, combat support has been a concern. Most support and functional brigades train and operate at the division and corps level. Support of and availability for small units has raised questions. The answer, echoed by the Army’s top leaders, is to the point: The war fighter is not the only soldier who must be adaptable and scalable. For example, there is ongoing effort to put operationally adaptable fires in the squad. A boost in joint logistics over-the-shore operations and pre-positioning is likely, as well.
Indeed, “expeditionary” is the new mindset as training and support focuses on the small unit.
Squad and platoon leaders can expect brigades to push capabilities and responsibilities down the chain as the battlefield becomes decentralized. The individual soldier will have greater lethality, survivability and access to intelligence.
While the Army’s primary mission remains its ability to fight and win the nation’s wars, this new model places greater emphasis on those areas “left of the bang.” Training will enable soldiers to prevent and shape so they don’t have to fight and win, especially if that fight may become a large-scale conflict a cash-strapped Army is not equipped to fight.
In the words of one commander, the “battle is to prevent battle.”
Left of the bang
Most preparatory training will be done at home station. There will be plenty of run-and-gun aspects to this. Trainers will use virtual, simulated and integrated training to replicate scenarios you are likely to face while deployed. Those threats will range from the complex to the criminal. All company lane training will move to home station in 2014.
But the immersion in language, regional expertise and culture training will be the big difference. Indeed, units assigned to the new deployment model will quickly find themselves on the cutting edge of the “human dimension” doctrine.
That means soldiers will spend a lot of time training allied armies to do things they are now unable to do. Many missions will be proactive rather than reactive. There will be a lot of joint and partner-building exercises to increase U.S. influence and enhance the nation’s ability to gain access if required.
This approach is different from the training and deployments that have filled the past 12 years. But this is a far different and increasingly complex world, Fields said.
Odierno has long asserted that combat ultimately is a human endeavor and success requires the soldier to understand the human dimension, especially as the complexity of the world is so rapidly changing. Simply put, people will see their government, their society and their circumstance very differently from you. Even when standing among allied nations, their views of what they want to achieve will be different. It is critical to understand these before the mission begins.
The chief used his own example when outlining this doctrine to Army Times in late 2012.
“I believe that when we went into Iraq initially we did not understand the underlying fabric of the Iraqi population,” he said. “We did not understand what had happened over the past 20 years in what I call the societal devastation of Iraq that occurred.
“We underestimated the impact of the Sunni issues, the Kurdish issues and the importance of Iraq to Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. All of these factors played into what happened in Iraq over time,” he said. “I do not want that to happen again.”