Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1985


Structuring the Force

Fiscal year 1985 was highly successful in the Army's continuing efforts to mold the total force-Regular, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve-into a balanced force of heavy, light, and special operations units; streamlined to execute AirLand Battle doctrine; organized to employ the large quantities of modern equipment coming on line; and sustainable on the integrated (nuclear, chemical, electronic warfare) battlefield. Major force structuring actions undertaken during the year centered around the activation of two active Army divisions, which will bring the total to eighteen; refinement of the design for heavy divisions; reorganization of the 7th Infantry Division to a light configuration; continued organization of the Army National Guard's (ARNG) new mechanized division (35th), and activation of a new ARNG light infantry division (29th); and providing a second combat aviation company for light infantry divisions.


Following an extensive review of force structure dispositions, national strategy, and the changing world situation conducted in 1983, the Army began to modernize its light forces in order to provide a more flexible response to emerging low intensity threats as well as to improve its ability to execute AirLand Battle doctrine. Light forces, correctly employed in urban areas and close terrain, enable heavier armored and mechanized forces to counter the enemy on more open terrain. Also, increased strategic mobility permits early commitment to a developing situation in a deterrent role, possibly avoiding the choice of deploying larger forces at a later time or abandoning the field.

Army plans to enhance the potential of its light forces were built on the organization of five light divisions-two new active


Army divisions (each with two active brigades and one reserve component brigade), a new reserve component division, and two reorganized active Army divisions. The new 10,800-soldier light infantry divisions would contain a high ratio of combat power to overall strength and could deploy in approximately five hundred C141B sorties, about one-third the number required for currently organized infantry divisions. Reduction in support personnel for the new divisions is seen, for example, in the provision made for the light division engineer battalion, which will contain about 300 men as compared to the nearly 800-man units assigned to heavy divisions.

In spite of Office of the Secretary of Defense efforts during the summer of 1985 to delay light force initiatives in response to congressional demands to pare the fiscal year 1986 DOD budget request as an economy move, the Army moved forward in meeting its objectives in this area. In February 1985 the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) was activated at Fort Drum, New York. Its strength will be built up in increments with one of its two active brigades temporarily located at Fort Benning, Georgia, until needed permanent facilities are built at Fort Drum, which heretofore had served as a reserve component summer training facility. Plans also moved forward during the year for activating the 6th Infantry Division (Light) early in fiscal year 1986, which will be organized around the 172d Infantry Brigade based in Alaska; and organizing the Army National Guard's light infantry division, the 29th, which was activated on 30 September 1985.

At the same time the Army was giving added emphasis to expanding its light division forces, it continued to reorganize its heavy divisions along Division 86 lines, which have been refined to increase operational flexibility and to implement AirLand Battle doctrine. Certain functions have been shifted from division to corps, the number of tank and infantry companies assigned to maneuver battalions increased from three to four, the forward support battalion concept has been adopted in the division support command, a long-range surveillance detachment has been placed in the divisional cavalry squadron, the sound and flash platoon and division artillery observation and lasing teams have been deleted, and infantry squads and 155mm. howitzer sections have been reduced to nine men each. Other Division 86 initiatives currently being implemented in CONUS and USAREUR heavy divisions are scheduled to be completed late next year, while reconfigurations taking place in Army National Guard heavy divisions will not be finished until


fiscal year 1991, due to fiscal constraints. When the changes have been completed, 16,800-man armor divisions will contain six tank battalions and four mechanized infantry battalions, while 17,000-man mechanized infantry divisions will have five tank battalions and five mechanized infantry battalions. Also, heavy division artillery pieces will increase from sixty-six to seventy-two howitzers plus a nine launcher MLRS battery, aviation assets will be contained in the division's cavalry brigade, a smoke generating capability will be added, and nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) defense will be enhanced. Plans to replace the heavy division's air defense battalion 24-gun Vulcan system with a 36-gun Sgt. York system were cancelled this summer when the Secretary of Defense halted the problem-plagued Sgt. York program.

Acting upon force designs adopted in fiscal year 1984, the Army pushed ahead with plans to reconfigure its air assault and airborne divisions. The new division structure will provide a broader range of communications capabilities, organic NBC decontamination and smoke assets, heavier anti-armor strength, and a third medical area support company for the air assault division, which will begin conversion in fiscal year 1986, and the airborne division, which will begin its reorganization the following year. A unique feature of the air assault division will be the air-combat aviation brigade, which will include a general support aviation battalion, two combat support aviation battalions, four attack helicopter battalions, a medium helicopter battalion, and a cavalry squadron.

In other divisional reorganization initiatives, the 2d Infantry Division has been redesigned to provide increased firepower and modernization for a forward deployed division without the availability of normal corps support. In 1985 an interim design was approved for the reorganization of the 9th Infantry Division as the 9th Infantry Division (Motorized). The design includes three infantry brigade headquarters and nine maneuver battalions, seven of which are combined arms. The division also has a unique organization in the form of a fourth maneuver brigade called the Cavalry Brigade Air Attack and has high tactical mobility common to the light division combined with firepower associated with the capabilities of the heavy division. The 9th Infantry Division artillery contains three direct support artillery battalions of eighteen 155-mm. towed howitzers each and a general support battalion consisting of two 105mm. towed howitzer batteries (IX6), and a nine launcher MLRS battery. The 9th Infantry Division was organized for


service in Southwest Asia as part of the Rapid Deployment Force, in Europe, or other parts of the world.


The lean infantry-heavy structure of the new, highly mobile light divisions and expanded responsibilities for bringing the fight to the enemy's rear under AirLand Battle doctrine have increased the role of corps-level operations in future large-scale conflicts. The redesign of corps units to meet the challenge of these tasks has begun. New corps force structure designs being planned and/or implemented include increasing the strength of command operations battalions and area signal battalions in the corps signal brigade, transferring division Chaparral battalions, and adding Hawk battalions to the air defense artillery brigade, converting active chemical companies to mechanized, strengthening the corps military police brigade, transferring eight-inch field artillery cannons to the corps, converting cannon artillery battalions to three batteries of eight howitzers each, adding multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) battalions and a target acquisition battalion to the corps artillery brigade, and adding attack helicopter battalions to the corps aviation brigade.

Special Operations Forces

The activation of the 3d Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger) was the most significant event during fiscal year 1985 in the enhancement program initiated in 1982 to improve the readiness and capabilities of the Army's Special Operations Forces (SOF). These include Special Forces, Rangers, Psychological Operations, Civil Affairs, and Special Operations Aviation units. The program made additional headway during the past year with the activation of the Army's 3d Ranger Battalion-3d Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger), an increase in SOF aviation assets with the organization of a second reinforced aviation battalion-this one in the reserve components, improved authorization levels of organization for SOF units, and increased staffing for Headquarters, 1st Special Operations Command (SOCOM). The reserve components continued to play a significant role in the SOF area, particularly in Psychological Oper-


ations (PSYOPS) and Civil Affairs (CA). During the year new operational concepts were developed for PSYOPS and CA units which may lead to the development of new Tables of Organization and Equipment (TOEs) for both types of units.

Reserve Components

The role of the reserve components in providing roundout brigades for the two new light infantry divisions now being organized or planned for the active Army reinforced the policy of Active-Guard-Reserve integration to a degree unprecedented in recent history. Today's Army cannot meet any major contingency without the reserve components. The Total Army is no longer a concept, but a guiding principle.

Major Army National Guard force structure actions during the year included the continued activation of the 35th Infantry Division (Mechanized), and activation of the Guard's only light division, the 29th, formed from separate brigades in Virginia and Maryland, organization of the reserve components' only mountain battalion from units in the Vermont Army National Guard, and beginning the conversion of the Guard's three heavy divisions to Division 86 design. During the year the Guard will undergo 27 unit activations and 263 unit conversions.

Army Reserve troop actions during the year emphasized improved service support capabilities in the critical areas of conventional ammunition supply, water production and storage, chemical decontamination, communications, and medical support. The number of U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) roundout units was expanded by the activation of ten units to replace a like number of inactivated active Army units.

Fiscal Year 1985 marked the completion of the principal phases of a major reorganization in Forces Command's reserve component management structure. On 1 October 1984, a full year ahead of schedule, the last of the Army Readiness and Mobilization Regions were eliminated and the Fourth U.S. Army was established. The resulting structure, with five continental U.S. armies and no Readiness Regions, eliminates one management layer and provides increased responsibility for the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve as their role in national defense continues to grow.


Other Force Structure Actions

The Army's plan to establish more than thirty combat arms regimental headquarters during the year in support of the New Manning System took a back seat to more pressing issues, including the effort required to lighten and modernize the force, and only six new headquarters were organized . Implementation of the regimental system, although delayed, is expected to gain momentum in the coming year.

Planning continued during the year for standardizing selected Army Tables of Distribution and Allowances (TDAs) and to identify TDAs for conversion to Modification Tables of Organization and Equipment (MTOEs). A standardized TDA for the garrison Base Operating Information System (BASOPS) which can be applied horizontally across command lines has been developed. Vertical standardization is also being considered for other types of units, such as training centers and communications centers.

An Army-Air Force agreement to transfer the Air Force's rotary-wing aircraft having a Special Operations mission to the Army was deferred by the Deputy Secretary of Defense in December 1984. The proposal was one of thirty-one joint force development process initiatives the two services agreed to in May 1984, which were designed to provide better coordination of budget priorities, eliminate duplicative functions, and provide more efficient combat operations. The number of initiatives has now increased to thirty-five.



Go to:

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

Return to Table of Contents

Search CMH Online
Return to CMH Online
Last updated 4 March 2004