The Army was emerging from a decade of reorganization and doctrinal change as it entered the 1990s. By the late 1970s, the All-Volunteer Army was displaying persistent problems, causing Army Chief of Staff General Edward C. Meyer to call it a "hollow force" in his May 1980 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. Army leaders faced the grim reality that half of all new enlisted personnel either scored in the lowest acceptable category of the Armed Forces Qualification Test or had failed to complete high school, and were entering a force characterized by poor morale and severely limited resources. From that low point, Army leaders resurrected the force during the 1980s as the restructured Army of Excellence, honing the AirLand Battle doctrine of maneuver warfare espoused in the 1982 Field Manual (FM) 100-5, Operations, and procuring a substantial array of new hardware to replace aging equipment. Rigorous attention to recruiting, training, and retaining high-quality personnel, combined with significantly increased defense spending, enabled the Army to become a far more formidable force. By the end of the 1980s, the Army was clearly capable of meeting the threat posed by the Soviet Union's conventional forces and fulfilling the other requirements of the National Military Strategy. In the decade between fiscal year (FY) 1989 and FY 1999, the maturation and fiscal adaptation of the reform policies of the 1980s continued and were tried by fire as a new international order emerged following the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact and collapse of the Soviet Union. The sudden end of the Cold War and the appearance of new regional and global threats during the 1990s presented the Army with substantial challenges, even as the success of recent reforms offered a model for the adaptations required to meet them. While diplomats, politicians, and economists explored the ramifications of the developing post-Cold War international order, the United States Army began preparing to enter the twenty-first century. By the decade's end in FY 1999, the Army had designed two new force structures, Force XXI and Army After Next (AAN), as successors to the Army of Excellence architecture, and it had initiated the programs required to create those organizations.
In June 1990, Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney reluctantly submitted a plan to Congress that
outlined a 25 percent decrease in the size of the armed services. The plan, a response to growing budget deficits and the rapidly
diminishing threat posed by the Warsaw Pact, called for the reduction of the active Army from eighteen divisions to a base force of
fourteen divisions by 1995. The base force design abandoned the largescale forward positioning of the Cold War in favor of domestic
basing and enhanced force-projection capabilities, enabling a flexible and timely response to crises around the globe while reducing
military expenditures. President George Bush announced his support of this plan, the first structural adaptation of the armed services
to the approaching end of the Cold War era, on 2 August 1990.
Iraq launched a successful invasion of Kuwait that same day. The Army soon responded to that aggression by deploying to Saudi Arabia in conjunction with a multinational coalition. As it entered FY 1991, the Army that was created during the Cold War to defeat the Warsaw Pact in the complex terrain of Europe prepared for battle against an adversary using Soviet-style weapons and tactics in open country that resembled its own training facilities at Fort Irwin, California. Operations Desert Shield and the Desert Storm offensive that followed revealed both the success of the previous decade's reforms and the weaknesses remaining in the force they produced. American soldiers smashed the Iraqi army in a hundred-hour ground campaign, following weeks of preparatory air strikes that capitalized on improved guided munitions and unchallenged aerial supremacy. But the forces supporting the Gulf War effort, previously identified by Secretary Cheney as straining U.S. financial resources in time of peace, took months to prepare and deploy for combat. Their one-sided victory owed much to the availability of secure staging areas and Iraq's failure to mount any substantial diplomatic or military opposition to the required buildup. Few military planners would be optimistic enough to depend on a repetition of those auspicious circumstances in future contingency operations.
But before FY 1991 ended, the Gulf War had become the obvious model for large-scale conflicts in the foreseeable future. On 1 July 1991, the Warsaw Pact recognized the reality of its collapse by officially disbanding. The failure of an August coup attempt by hard-line Communist party leaders in Moscow, and the prominent role of Russian President Boris Yeltsin in its suppression, underscored the deterioration of Washington's Cold War rival. On 25 December 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist, replaced that day when eleven of the twelve remaining Soviet republics joined the Commonwealth of Independent States established by Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus on 8 December. The bipolar world that had emerged in 1945 disappeared, taking with it the superficial stability long imposed by superpower rivalry.
In the absence of the restraint enforced by superpower patronage and the threat of global escalation,
regional conflicts like the Gulf War could only become more likely. In the eyes of American strategists, the rapidly approaching
twenty-first century would be characterized by the threat of such conflicts, the need for peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions,
and counterterrorist operations, rather than preparations for total war in Western Europe. The Army of the Cold War era, effective as
it was in Operation Desert Storm, was not optimized for those tasks.
The truth of that bleak forecast was demonstrated in FY 1992, even as Army planners evaluated the lessons of the Gulf War. Within the Commonwealth of Independent States, newly established governments struggled over boundaries and the renewal of ancient cultural and political rivalries. Afghanistan erupted into another round of internal turmoil. Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia all seceded from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia, leading the United Nations (UN) to support the use of force to end Bosnian bombardment of Sarajevo. Iraq obstructed UN weapons inspections mandated by the Gulf War peace accords. The Army needed to adapt to this new strategic environment.
Although the National Military Strategy released in January 1992 indicated the direction American leaders had chosen in light of the new reality, the base force concept supported by President Bush amounted to a modest reduction in size rather than a major realignment of the Department of Defense (DOD). In March 1993, the incoming administration of President William J. Clinton initiated a thorough review of the armed services and American strategy from the bottom up to guide a more comprehensive response.
Secretary of Defense Les Aspin released the Report on the Bottom-Up Review in October 1993. The results of the seven-month investigation shaped defense planning and Army policy through FY 1999, preparing the armed services for the challenges of the twenty-first century. Establishing the ability to face two nearly simultaneous regional conflicts as the measure of acceptable military capability, the review identified five primary threats to U.S. security in the post-Cold War era. Those threats were the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; regional crises caused by the aggression of a major regional power; conflicts arising out of religious or ethnic animosities, subversion, or state-sponsored terrorism; dangers to democracy and reform in the former Warsaw Pact nations or elsewhere; and potential dangers to the United States from domestic economic failure.
As the Army examined the implications of the review in early FY 1994, it continued to execute the force and budget reductions initiated in the late 1980s. The Army's Total Obligation Authority dropped 36 percent between FY 1989 and FY 1994, despite a 300 percent increase in
operational deployments since the end of the Cold War. In an attempt to preserve crucial modernization
programs such as the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter and the Crusader artillery system, the Army had already accelerated previously planned
Those reductions continued under the guidance provided by the Report on the Bottom-Up Review. The document called for a decrease to ten active and "five plus" reserve component divisions by FY 1999, with a total reserve component strength of 575,000 by that year. Increased prepositioning of supplies and improved battlefield mobility would enable the reduced Army to deliver decisive fire power earlier than had the Army of the Gulf War, despite a continued decline in forward stationing.
The review recognized the existence of an ongoing revolution in warfare driven by information technology and other recent developments, which in turn suggested the creation of new operational and tactical concepts to exploit the emerging capabilities. Among Army systems specifically mentioned as exemplars of what came to be called the "Revolution in Military Affairs" were those associated with the development of ballistic missile defense, along with the AH-64 Apache Longbow attack helicopter, the advanced fire-and-forget version of the Hellfire missile it would carry, and the RAH-66 Comanche armed scout helicopter. Such systems used their ability to rapidly collect, process, and respond to information to maximize the impact of relatively minor destructive power across all levels of warfare. An overhaul of the procurement system and the introduction of commercial practices and technologies from the civilian world would, it was hoped, reduce the time requirements and costs of those new systems and extend the promise of the revolution into Army administration. Like the rest of the DOD, the Army would place renewed emphasis on quality-of-life issues under the recommendations of the Report on the Bottom-Up Review to attract and retain the high-quality personnel the armed services required to pursue this technological revolution.
The National Military Strategies of FY 1995 and FY 1997 built upon the foundation of the Bottom-Up Review and the Army's response to it. As FY 1994 unfolded, the Army Staff began developing plans for an informationage Army structure called Force XXI. The belief that information would be almost as important as ammunition in future conflicts dictated the shape of Force XXI. To achieve victory, the futuristic force would overwhelm its enemies by integrating information technology and weapons systems in a process called force digitization. Force XXI would use that integration to establish a common awareness of the situation, coordinate activities throughout the zone of combat in real time, accelerate the pace of battle, and optimize the Army's responsiveness. As the Army adopted this structure and the concomitant technologies and doctrine, it would begin to
operate as an increasingly cohesive system-of-systems, capitalizing on its full range of capabilities.
Force XXI originated in the AirLand Battle doctrine of FM 100-5 as it was reinterpreted in 1993 and further developed in the August 1994 release of Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Pamphlet 525-5, Force XXI Operations: A Concept for the Evolution of Full-Dimensional Operations for the Strategic Army of the Early Twenty-First Century. Five characteristics defined Force XXI: doctrinal flexibility; strategic mobility; tailorability and modularity; joint, multinational, and interagency connectivity; and versatility in war and in operations other than war. Those characteristics corresponded well with the design for early twenty-first century military capabilities that the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced with the 1995 publication of Joint Vision 2010.
As described by the TRADOC, Force XXI doctrine was developed for a force-projection army consistent with the base force concept rather than the forward-deployed formations of the Cold War. The new doctrine addressed the challenges of the emerging multipolar world and the lessons of recent combat experiences. It employed innovative technological capabilities, both enhancements to existing equipment and evolving new platforms, to replace the sequential operations of earlier Army doctrine with a system of simultaneous operations. The force would support a digital, knowledge-based mode of land warfare in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.
As Army planners spent the mid-1990s establishing the precise doctrine and programs needed to make Force XXI a reality, they also began planning for its successor. The potential of the revolution in military affairs could not be fully exploited in the short-term plans for Force XXI, nor could the existing Army sacrifice mission readiness to hasten more ambitious reforms and the technological innovations they required. Modernization would necessarily be a gradual and deliberate process. The legacy force, the existing Army of the early 1990s, would be supported and maintained as information systems and new techniques transformed its weapons platforms and policies into those of the interim force, Force XXI. At the same time, research and development efforts would begin preparing the Army to leap ahead to the objective force, AAN, around the year 2025.
The concepts for such a force began emerging in 1993, partly as a byproduct of early discussions over Force XXI. General Dennis J. Reimer, the Army chief of staff, asked the TRADOC to start officially exploring possibilities for the Army of 2025 during FY 1994. By February 1996, those explorations had matured into a formal structure, TRADOC's Army After Next Project. Discussions continued through FY 1999, focusing on the geostrategic setting, state of the military art, human and organizational issues, and technological trends that might influence the army of 2025. The
emerging consensus depicted AAN as a network-driven force maximizing the potential of Force XXI's
system-of-systems approach to warfare, adding physical speed and agility to the mental agility developed by Force XXI. Lightweight,
survivable, sustainable, and lethal systems would combine their specialized functions in real time to dominate the battlespace through
precision and information dominance.
That objective force, successor to the current legacy force and the rapidly emerging interim Force XXI, was shaped by a series of war games in the late 1990s. The Leavenworth Games, force-on-force exercises conducted by the TRADOC Analysis Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, explored the demands of warfare in the world of 2025. A series of Winter War Games conducted at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, served as the capstone of those joint exercises. Both the war games and the discussions surrounding them drew on expertise from academia, industry, the armed services, and other government agencies to help the Army prepare for the future.
By the end of FY 1998, the Army had initiated a number of programs intended to make Force XXI and its successor, AAN, operational realities. Those efforts extended beyond the research, development, and procurement of new technologies. Recruiting, training, and retaining high-quality personnel were as essential to the ongoing modernization campaign as they had been to the restoration of the Army in the early 1980s. Efforts to provide an improved quality of life for military families, including housing and military construction, educational and recreational opportunities, and expanded use of reserve component personnel to reduce the frequency of individual deployments, helped the Army maintain its appeal in a highly competitive labor market. While making these efforts, the Army implemented the force and budget reductions established in the Report on the Bottom-Up Review and maintained a high operational tempo.
The global instability that began to emerge as the Warsaw Pact withered away and the Soviet Union collapsed from within, and the subsequent increase in U.S. contingency operations, continued through the 1990s as the Army pursued its reform agenda. Unrest in the Balkans led to U.S. intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, while humanitarian crises required American responses in Somalia and Haiti. Iraq's stubborn refusal to comply with the provisions of the Gulf War cease-fire agreement produced a standing U.S. commitment to enforce no-fly zones in the northern and southern regions of that nation, and the threat of renewed hostilities required an expanded military presence throughout the region. Smaller crises, the growth of international terrorism, drug interdiction, and other demands, combined with the Army's mission of shaping a stable and secure international order, strained the Army's ability to respond without penalizing readiness or training.
Balancing operational readiness and training requirements with the
demands of force modernization was one of several challenges awaiting the Army as it entered the final fiscal year of the decade.
Approaching FY 1999, the Army displayed clear signs that it had not been entirely successful in striking that balance recently.
Training shortfalls, maintenance backlogs, aging equipment and infrastructure, and continued shortages in important personnel
categories had to be addressed within the constraints of a budget essentially unchanged from FY 1998.
In addition, the year marked the end of both the first post-Cold War decade and the guidance originally provided by the bottom-up review process that sought to prepare the Army for the twenty-first century. As the Army continued to pursue the plans for Force XXI and AAN it had developed in response to the review, it would need to establish a revised and extended equivalent to the review's guidance to meet the demands of the next decade. The Army's strength of ten active and eight reservecomponent divisions at the end of FY 1998 already reflected an adaptation of the goal of ten active and five-plus reserve-component divisions originally established by the review for FY 1999.
The Army's commitments on the first day of FY 1999 were extensive even for an eighteen-division force. In Germany and Korea, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, Kuwait and Turkey, and in less prominent locations around the globe, the Army continued to shape the international environment and protect U.S. interests. Manning those deployed and forward-stationed units, and meeting the personnel and logistics requirements of the Army as a whole would strain operational tempo guidelines and challenge the Army's personnel and logistical systems. Continued implementation of improved business practices and other initiatives launched during the 1990s as part of the overall revolution in military affairs offered the Army a means of increasing its effectiveness and efficiency in meeting those challenges during FY 1999.
As the final fiscal year of both a decade and a century, FY 1999 presented the Army with several unique challenges in preparation for the year 2000. On 31 December 1999, the United States was scheduled to withdraw from Panama and to turn over all of its remaining property in that nation. The Army, therefore, had to withdraw its forces from Panama and make final preparations for the transition during FY 1999. After almost a century of continuous American presence, this represented a difficult, and at times emotional, transition for all those concerned. Headquarters, U.S. Army South, faced the challenge of directing the process in Panama even as it relocated from that nation to Puerto Rico.
Army computer systems, like many others, faced an even more unusual challenge with the approach of the year 2000. That date represented a potential threat to the continued functioning and reliability of information systems still using only two digits to represent the year in date calculations.
Despite several years of effort, as of October 1998 only half of the Army's systems reported readiness for the inescapable arrival of
1 January 2000. During FY 1999, the Army had to prepare the remaining systems, confirm their networked functions, and validate
contingency plans for potential problems in both military and civilian information systems.
Those preparations and contingency plans corresponded with two elements of the Army's mission as identified in the National Military Strategy: responding to the full spectrum of crises abroad and at home, and preparing for an uncertain future. In planning for the transition to 2000 and examining potential responses to local disturbances caused by related computer failures, the Army also increased its preparedness for acts of cyber warfare and domestic terrorism. The terrorist threat received considerable attention in the final days of FY 1998 and throughout FY 1999 as the Army continued to implement and coordinate new procedures for dealing with the potential use of weapons of mass destruction within the United States.
The National Domestic Preparedness Office pursued a similar goal as it entered its first full fiscal year of operation in FY 1999. Administered by the Army as the lead agency for that DOD-supported working group, the office underwent several months of turmoil before emerging as an interagency office supported by the Department of Justice. The Army added a useful weapon to the arsenal of federal, state, and local programs coordinated by the National Domestic Preparedness Office when it established the first Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams. Those reserve-component units became operational during FY 1999, standing ready to coordinate the activities of local and federal agencies responding to a nuclear, biological, or chemical incident while providing expert assistance to first-responders.
Shaping the international environment is the third in the National Military Strategy triad of mission elements. As it entered FY 1999, the Army had more than twenty-eight thousand soldiers deployed away from their home stations in seventy foreign nations. During the year, the Army faced ongoing operational demands in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Persian Gulf. It continued to promote U.S. interests by training foreign militaries, supporting arms control missions, and providing humanitarian assistance where needed.
The need for that assistance was apparent from the first day of the new fiscal year, as the northern Caribbean reeled from the devastation caused by Hurricane Georges. The 15-29 September storm struck the U.S. mainland in Mississippi as well, leaving hundreds of thousands of people along the U.S. Gulf Coast without electricity. National Guard personnel already deployed to provide disaster relief and humanitarian assistance as FY 1999 began soon faced another natural disaster-Hurricane Mitch
caused additional billions of dollars in damage and claimed more than ten thousand lives in the
Caribbean basin before passing over Florida on 5 November. Members of the National Guard, Army Reserve, and active Army spent much of
the year in the subsequent relief and recovery efforts.
Whereas humanitarian missions contributed to the year's high operational tempo, they also provided welcome opportunities to combine training activities and operational deployments. The relief efforts for Hurricanes Georges and Mitch allowed active Army and reserve-component units to practice mobilization procedures and their more specialized skills against real needs. Some reserve-component personnel used scheduled training missions to address humanitarian concerns within the United States, providing dental and veterinary care to Native American communities in Montana and Alaska.
The Army also continued to provide training assistance to foreign nations. One venue for that assistance, the School of the Americas, was a source of public controversy during FY 1999 because of continued allegations that its curriculum somehow supported or encouraged human rights abuses. Army efforts to support foreign and domestic drug law enforcement agencies (DLEAs) proved to be more popular. In addition to training DLEA personnel, the active and reserve components provided operational support and equipment in the struggle against illegal drugs.
Some of that equipment became available as the Army procured more modern materiel. Research, development, testing, and evaluation efforts continued to improve the sophistication of Army hardware during the fiscal year. Programs to develop technologies such as M1A2 Abrams tank upgrades, the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter, and the Crusader artillery system consumed more than $5 billion of the Army's $64 billion FY99 appropriation. The first upgraded M1A2s entered Army service at the end of the year, and prototype trials of the Comanche and Crusader brought those weapons systems nearer to production.
Important as they are to maintaining the Army's technological superiority, such development programs also offered less obvious benefits. The Army continued to expand the number of research grants and contracts offered to historically black colleges and universities and to minority institutions during FY 1999, thus promoting equal access to educational and research opportunities. Procurement efforts reflected the same interest in assisting disadvantaged populations through the first use of Historically Underutilized Business Zone contracts to assist regions of high poverty or unemployment. Such research and procurement efforts introduced the Army's first "green ammunition" during FY 1999. The environmentally friendly 5.56-mm round was expected to reduce both the amount of lead
contamination produced by Army ranges and the use of toxic substances in the manufacturing process.
Advances in environmental health, equal access, and local economies all promote quality of life, an issue of general concern throughout the force in FY 1999. The quality of life offered to Army personnel is a key element in the success of recruiting and retention efforts. Those efforts were complicated during the year by the competitive labor market and the perceived gap between civilian and military pay, but the active Army and National Guard both met their end-strength goals, and the Army Reserve missed its target by less than one percent. Efforts to improve Army housing, correct a growing shortage of Roman Catholic chaplains, raise pay, provide educational opportunities, and identify and correct other quality-of-life issues sought to maintain and improve the appeal of Army life during FY 1999.
In accordance with the 1997 National Military Strategy, the Army's overall objective for FY 1999 was to defend and protect U.S. national interests by promoting peace and stability while remaining ready to defeat adversaries if such action became necessary. The Army pursued that objective in accordance with the guidance provided by the Report on the Bottom-Up Review, seeking to implement Force XXI reforms, maintain the readiness of the existing force, and prepare for the advent of the Army After Next. Along the way it faced budgetary constraints, continued personnel problems, and natural disasters, but it proved capable of meeting those and other challenges and of executing its full mission under the National Military Strategy.