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The U.S. Army In Transformation

The United States Army is presently going through a large transformation. It is adapting and restructuring itself to meet the objectives of the 21st Century fighting force; in short, this means that the old 20th Century concept of building an army around divisions has got to go.

Instead, the army is focusing on the brigade as the functional building block. Focusing on brigades means that you have smaller forces that are easier to handle. Coupled with new technology and a tighter joint forces integration, this means that the new army will be smaller, more agile, more adaptive and responsive, and more efficiently deployed to face emerging threats while at the same time packing enough punch to knock out any serious opponent.

One of these new brigade teams is the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team ("Arctic Wolves"), stationed in Fort Wainwright, Alaska. It is (I think) a mechanized infantry brigade built around the concept of the Stryker vehicle, and its integral components are three infantry battalions, one field artillery battalion, a cavalry squadron, and several addititional signal, engineering and military intelligence companies, etc. As this article is being written, it is presently deploying to Iraq to replace the 1st brigade of the 25 infantry division. They're going to move into some of the more dangerous terrority in Iraq: the northern part, probably the area around Mosul and other places where terrorist activity is high.

I personally believe that the Brigade Combat Team structure fits the purpose well. It is difficult to field a division because of its inherent size and logistical trail. Brigades are smaller and can be fielded much more easily, and I think it will serve the new army organizational principles well. Still, it means moving somewhere in the estimate of 3500-4000 soldiers along with their equipment across the world and is no small feat to pull off. But I bet they will be successful.

I don't think there exists any similar organization throughout the world quite like an army. It is designed to be flexible, fast, aggressive; full of people doing their jobs in the midst of enemy fire. I sometimes imagine applying the same concept to my line of work; and I try to picture a company full of computer software engineers, frantically hacking away at their programs, while the enemy keeps firing volleys of 7.62 rounds at them. Not a pretty picture, but that's what the army does, all the time. And they sure do it well.


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