Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1987


Structuring the Force

To operate effectively in varied and distant geographic settings, the Army is continuously restructuring its forces to capitalize on technology and to improve its ability to conduct AirLand Battle doctrine. With a fixed active corps end strength of 780,000, the Army strives to create a balanced but streamlined force of heavy, light, and special operations units that ensure flexibility, mobility, and rapid response to contingencies or sustained combat operations. In response to a broadening spectrum of threats and responsibilities, the Army is also committing a portion of its limited resources to force modernization, readiness, and sustainability demands. The Army's multiple national and international obligations compel it to integrate reserve component (RC) units with the active component (AC) force to achieve a "Total Army" concept that is consistent with the "Army of Excellence" (AOE) requirement.


The Army is redesigning its largest tactical organization-the corps-by equipping its commanders with essential assets for achieving operational objectives of fighting, controlling, and sustaining operations. Future modifications may include increasing the strength of the corps signal brigade; transferring division Chaparral and adding Hawk missile battalions to the corps air defense artillery brigade; strengthening the military police brigade; providing intelligence capability; transferring eight inch field artillery cannons; converting cannon artillery battalions to three eight-gun batteries; adding an MLRS battalion and a target acquisition battalion with remotely piloted vehicles to artillery; and adding attack helicopter battalions to the corps aviation brigade.


Following the 1983 review of force structure, national strategy, and the changing world situation, a light infantry initiative was introduced in 1984, primarily to deal with contingency missions. The


initiative resulted in restructuring the 7th and 25th Infantry Divisions and organizing to the light design the 6th Infantry and the 10th Mountain Divisions as well as the 29th Infantry Division (ARNG) to enable the National Command Authority to deploy units rapidly during the first critical days of a crisis.

During this fiscal year, the Army resumed a series of activations and consolidations to transform the five divisions to a lighter design. One, the 6th Infantry Division, which was activated as a light division in March 1986 and collocated at Forts Wainwright and Richardson, Alaska, is organizing by using the already existing 172d Infantry Brigade as a nucleus. This year the 6th Division activated a field artillery battalion and a division support command and planned using the 205th Separate Infantry Brigade (USAR) in Minnesota to round out the division.

The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), another of the five light divisions, continued restructuring by forming a division artillery headquarters and headquarters battery, as well as a field artillery battalion. The division, which was activated in FY 1985 at Fort Drum, New York, added a fifth light infantry battalion and a combat aviation company during the year. Rounded out by the 27th Infantry Brigade, New York Army National Guard, the 10th Mountain is expanding at Fort Drum as post housing facilities become available.

Meanwhile, the 25th Infantry Division, which is located in Hawaii, completed its conversion to light design in November 1986, following the COHORT arrival of the 5th Battalion, 14th Infantry. Another element, the 155th Field Artillery Battery, later added to the division table of organization, is scheduled for activation on 16 October 1987. Personnel and equipment acquisition for the battery are proceeding as scheduled.

In other divisional restructuring efforts this year, the Army continued implementing its 1984 plan to convert airborne and air assault divisions to light design. Having begun converting the assault divisions in FY 1986, the Army is in the process of converting the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions to the lighter and more flexible design during this fiscal year. Accomplishing this mission is expected to improve tactical mobility, enhance reconnaissance and communications capability, and augment the units' ability to conduct operations in a nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) environment.

Also during this year, the 2d Infantry Division activated an organic attack helicopter battalion in Korea. The additional battalion will lend added support to the forward-deployed division by increasing its firepower without increasing manpower and thereby overextending the personnel spaces to which the division is entitled.


The Army also continued refining its heavier force designs to provide for an armored division of about 16,800 officers and enlisted personnel organized in six tank and four mechanized infantry battalions. A mechanized infantry division would have about 17,100 personnel in five tank and five mechanized infantry battalions.

The design retains the increase from three to four in the number of tank and infantry companies assigned to maneuver battalions. The companies are being equipped with Abrams tanks and BFVs. The division support command provides a forward support battalion to each brigade and a main support battalion within the division rear area. The divisional cavalry squadron has a long-range surveillance detachment. Infantry squads and 155-mm. howitzer sections have been reduced to nine men each. The eight-inch howitzer batteries have been moved to corps and a battery of MLRS has been retained as a divisional general support weapon. During FY 1987 heavy forces in both Europe and CONUS continued their conversion to the refined unit designs as associated new equipment was fielded and post facilities became available. Reserve component round-out units also converted to new unit designs about the same time as their associated AC unit.

The 9th Infantry Division was tasked to develop innovative tactics and equipment that would evolve into an interim design for a motorized division with 3 infantry brigade headquarters, 5 heavy combined arms battalions, 2 combined arms battalions, 2 light attack battalions, and 1 combat aviation brigade. The division's tactics and equipment emphasize high tactical mobility combined with extensive firepower, while retaining strategic mobility more comparable to the light than heavy division.

Special Operations Forces

In support of the national effort to strengthen its special operations forces (SOF) and pursuant to congressional mandate, the Army established Special Forces as a separate career branch on 9 April 1987. The decision underscored the Army's commitment to revitalize Special Forces by providing for the systematic management of Special Forces leaders throughout their careers.

The Army's renewed focus on special operations closely paralleled the national concern about special forces. On 15 April 1987, Secretary of Defense Weinberger announced the establishment of a unified command, USSOCOM. The new command assumed responsibility for all special operations units as well as the special operations schools of the Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg,


North Carolina; the Air Force Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, Florida; and the Naval Special Warfare Center at Coronado, California.

On 8 May 1987, the 1st Special Operations Command was designated as the Army component of USSOCOM. As the Army element to USSOCOM, the 1st Special Operations Command exercises peacetime control over all active and USAR special operations forces within CONUS. The unit is also responsible for evaluating the training and monitoring the combat readiness of the Army National Guard SOR

In FY 1987 the groundwork was complete. Secretary of Defense Weinberger assigned Army and Air Force active and reserve component Psychological Operations (PSYOP) and Civil Affairs units to the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Strengthened PSYOP staff elements provided a formal structure to review the unit's plans and operations, incorporate PSYOP into war plans, and review national PSYOP policy, which had been developed by the Joint Staff. As a result, requirements for the 1985 PSYOP Master Plan were implemented in 1987 and fully integrated into DOD plans and operations. By the end of 1987, U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) and U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) had developed PSYOP plans for assisting host nations and countering peacetime terrorism and insurgency.

Psychological Operations was strengthened as a viable career path by creating Functional Area 39 for officers and Military Operational Specialty 37F for enlisted personnel. A joint senior PSYOP course was developed for general officers, colonels, and senior executive service equivalents by the Air Force Special Operations School to assist key decision makers in the use of PSYOP capabilities. Joint staff officer-level courses were also developed. In addition, the Army developed a graduate degree program in international relations, a language qualification course, a regional studies course, and the PSYOP Officer Orientation Course. A substantial amount of the Army's SOF is found in the USAR which contributes 80 percent of the Special Forces and 96 percent of the Psychological Operations and the Civil Affairs units. To improve the warfighting capability of the RC SOF, the Army plans to modernize equipment for the group and increase its manpower level by allowing for special call-up authority during emergencies.

Reserve Components

Current Army strategy continues to place unprecedented emphasis on the role of the reserve component as an integral part of


the Active Army's combat potential. The active force cannot meet its current worldwide commitments without the help of the reserves. Consequently, the Army has closely integrated its active and reserve components. Current mobilization plans exemplify the use of reserve units to round out active ones with the skills and manpower required to go to war. During this year, five reserve component brigades and six maneuver battalions will round out eight active component divisions, including two light divisions.

Major USAR force structure actions in FY 1987 included the continued restructuring of the 29th Infantry Division. Activated in October 1985, this ARNG division was established from two ARNG brigades from Virginia and Maryland and is reorganizing into the light infantry design. In other Army restructuring activities, the Army activated and/or converted 13 aviation units, 1 military police company, 2 chemical decontamination companies, 1 signal battalion, 3 equipment maintenance companies, 5 light equipment maintenance companies, 10 military intelligence companies, and 7 combat electronic warfare and intelligence battalions.

Fiscal Year 1987 saw ARNG units proceed with their pattern of converting to the AOE Division 86 design. The ARNG units activated 1 brigade headquarters for the 42d Infantry Division and 5 combat aviation brigades for the 5 ARNG infantry divisions. To complete the 35th Mechanized Infantry Division, 1 armor battalion and 2 support squadrons within the 2 ARNG armored cavalry regiments were converted to AOE design. Additionally, the ARNG activated 1 Hawk missile battalion, 1 long-range surveillance company, 2 mobile army surgical hospitals (MASHs), 5 attack helicopter battalions, and 64 combat and combat service support units. Two armored cavalry regiments (ACRs), the 116th and the 163d, were converted to heavy separate brigades as the Army directed.

In other force structure actions, the Secretary of the Army approved the activation of United States Army, South (USARSO), as a major Army command effective 4 December 1986. USARSO will provide a more streamlined chain of command for Army elements, like the 193d Infantry Brigade, that are already stationed in Panama but that lack the capability to support a unified command such as USSOUTHCOM. The reassignment of the 193d Infantry Brigade from FORSCOM is a major realignment in the command's assets, but the change is expected to enhance Army support of USSOUTHCOM.


Go to:

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

Return to Table of Contents

Search CMH Online
Last updated 17 November 2003