Here are the winners and losers in changing the US Army’s force structure

The US military revealed one white paper detailing how the agency plans to shrink the force in some places and increase it in others.

The release of the document Tuesday comes as the Army continues to transition from counterinsurgency missions to large-scale combat operations against technologically advanced adversaries, Army Secretary Christine Warmuth explained at a Feb. 27 event in Washington hosted by the Defense Writers Group .

Force structure changes are also necessary, he said, because the Army is working through a massive modernization effort that includes a wide variety of new capabilities coming online now and over the next two decades.

“What we’ve done through the force structure changes is to make room for some of the new formations,” he said, adding that equates to 7,500 new places for soldiers to go.

At the same time, the agency’s recruiting challenges have left it with a “hollow force structure,” Wormuth said, “so we had to cut basically 32,000 spaces to shrink the excess structure and make room for those 7,500 [spaces] new structure”.

The Army’s current authorized force structure is 445,000 active-duty soldiers, but the service was designed for 494,000. The new force structure is intended to close the gap, raising troop levels to about 470,000 troops by fiscal 2029.

Wormuth told Defense News in an interview last fall that the military was preparing to go to Capitol Hill to address some vital changes that would include both cuts from the counterinsurgency-related structure and high-tech additions to the force’s inventory. . The planned force structure would focus more on corps and division level operations and less on brigade combat groups.

“By bringing force structure and end strength into closer alignment, the Army will ensure that its formations are met at the appropriate level to maintain a high state of readiness,” the Army’s white paper said. “At the same time, the Army will continue to transform its recruiting efforts so it can regain its end strength, which is needed to provide strategic flexibility, reduce pressure on soldiers who deploy frequently, and add new capabilities to the force.” .

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What’s inside?

Some major elements of the new force structure will include the creation of the Army’s five theater-level multi-domain task forces, or MDTFs.

The Army has already established three MDTFs: two in the Indo-Pacific theater and one in the European theater. The agency plans to create another dedicated to the Pacific region and another that is “maintained by the agency” to possibly focus on the U.S. Central Command area of ​​operations, Wormuth said at the Defense Writers Group event.

MDTFs will consist of a headquarters and headquarters battalion, a multi-domain effects battalion, a long-range fires battalion, an indirect fire protection capability battalion and a brigade support battalion, the white paper notes.

“As discussions with allied countries progress over time, the Army will likely advance permanent station elements of MDTFs, such as multi-domain effects and long-range fire battalions, to enhance deterrence,” the document said.

The Army will also make “significant investments” in the structure for integrated air and missile defense at both the corps and division levels to include four additional indirect fire-capability battalions that offer defense against rockets, artillery, mortars, drones and cruise missiles -fixed locations; and four additional short-range maneuver air defense battalions.

The document noted that these new and additional formations are “only a representative sample of the full development of the Army’s capabilities.”

What comes out?

Some of the structures coming out of the force are areas authorized but not covered by soldiers. The military will not ask current soldiers to leave, the paper explained.

“The Army carefully reviewed each military occupational specialty and examined each skill set and functional area for effectiveness,” the paper said. For example, the Army will reallocate engineers at the brigade combat team level to the division echelon, “which allows the Army to reduce the overall number of engineer positions while giving division and corps commanders flexibility to assemble assets as needed during large-scale combat operations.”

The Army reduced nearly 10,000 sites through efficiencies such as reallocating engineer assets. The agency also reduced 2,700 authorizations based on modeling, the document said, to include factors such as “demand over time, ability to meet National Defense Strategy requirements and past deployment stress.”

Some other Army-wide reductions will come from adjustments to closed combat forces, according to the paper, to include the inactivation of cavalry platoons into mainland-based Stryker brigade combat teams and infantry brigade combat teams, converting weapons companies of the latter in platoons and eliminating some positions in the security forces’ support brigades “representing a reduction in capability with minimal risk”.

Those reductions are equivalent to another 10,000 reductions in space, the paper notes.

The Army also noted that its special operations forces had doubled in size over the past 20 years. “The Army conducted extensive analysis looking at special operations requirements for large-scale combat in multiple theaters and applied additional modeling to understand the requirements for special operators during the campaign phase of great power competition,” the document said.

The agency concluded that the structure there could be reduced by 3,000 seats. “Specific reductions will be made based on an approach that ensures the preservation of unique SOF capabilities,” the paper adds. “Positions and elements of the headquarters that are historically vacant or difficult to fill will be prioritized for reduction.”

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist who covers land warfare for Defense News. He has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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