Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1984



Tomorrow is never the time to start your preparation. The safety of this Nation in the atomic age cannot be built on good intentions and the decision to prepare when the time comes.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower


Fiscal year (FY) 1984 was a year of transition for the U.S. Army as it prepared to meet its varied worldwide obligations and missions. The implementation of force structures and development of weapon systems to complement the requirements of the AirLand Battle doctrine, as espoused in FM 100-5, was a central theme during the year. The Army recognized that the mid- to high-intensity conflict posed the greatest risk to the national security of the United States and, therefore, designed and trained forces to fight in accordance with the new AirLand Battle concepts of FM 100-5.

Several factors, however, compromised the full implementation of FM 100-5. The Army was aware that it lacked forces capable of rapid deployment to locations of low intensity conflict. Emphasis on much-needed modernization of heavy forces had left the Army with few units to deploy by airlift to meet the rapid deployment mission. Therefore, Army planners created the light division, lean in personnel and equipment, to employ best the scarce airlift capability, yet to retain the flexibility and combat power to accomplish its mission. Here too the Army made concessions as it balanced combat effectiveness against mission, airlift capacity, and doctrine.

A self-imposed military personnel ceiling of nearly 780,000 soldiers forced the Army to adjust to meet the goals of both FM 100-5 doctrine and the formation of light infantry divisions. Army planners solved this dilemma partially by reducing the size of heavy divisions, converting existing infantry divisions into light units, and using the resulting personnel savings to create new light divisions. These actions, started or continued in FY 84, would reach fruition in several years.

Meanwhile, the Army was still within the initial stages of its heavy force modernization program. Each new weapon system necessitated the Army's flexible adaptation because each system, in


turn, imposed new demands on sustainment, mobility, personal training, and doctrine. Often newer systems did not completely replace older weapons. The two had to exist side by side until the Army fielded new ones in their entirety, which marked a transition in materiel, training, and doctrine. Although the light forces could immediately take advantage of part of this modernization program, the majority of the new weapon systems were designed for a tank-versus-tank confrontation in Central Europe. The momentum of this so-called heavy modernization program could not be redirected easily because it underpinned central pillars of Army combat doctrine. Thus, the Army had to reevaluate its ongoing modernization program and simultaneously address the recognized needs of light forces. This process inaugurated another transitional period with adjustments to the twin demands of force modernization and rapid deployment.

The light force requirements included new doctrine, a different training program, lightweight yet powerful weaponry, and a distinct force structure, all designed to provide units with enhanced flexibility. The High Technology Light Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, field-tested various combinations of doctrine, weapons, and force structures for firepower, battlefield mobility, effectiveness, and deployment capability to determine the one best suited to the emerging light forces. Furthermore, the Army reemphasized the utility of the Special Operations Forces (SOF), increasing its capability and force structure to enhance effectiveness in unconventional warfare and thereby supplement the light forces in low-intensity conflicts.

Entering FY 84, the Army worked to resolve two major problems that hindered the combat capability of heavy and light forces lift and sustainment. The Air Force and Navy did not have the transportation resources to deploy the Army's forces in a timely manner either by air or sea. Once Army troops arrived in the area of conflict, sustainment requirements like food, fuel, ammunition, replacement personnel, and spare parts placed another heavy burden upon the already overextended U.S. lift capacities. Attempting to solve these problems, Army planners and logisticians pre-positioned POMCUS (pre-positioned materiel configured to unit sets) stores and war reserve stockpiles in Europe and deployed units in likely regions of conflict to reduce the lift requirements and improve the sustainment capabilities of Army forces in wartime. These actions altered the Army's force balance, funding allocations, force structure, logistics, and doctrine and allowed the Army to employ finite resources to meet its worldwide missions and obligations.


The balance between deployed forces and continental United States (CONUS)-based forces was one of several force structure issues drawing Army attention. Planners considered heavy-versus-light forces, combat-versus-support forces, and active-versus-reserve units in planning the most effective Army structure. As Lt. Gen. Fred K. Mahaffey, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans (DCSOPS), noted in October 1984, "This concept of proper force balance does not imply equal parts, but rather the achievement of optimal ratios between the various components of balance necessary to meet our strategic requirements." (Army, Oct 84) During FY 84, planners continued to study the proper force balance, a task that covered rapidly changing facets of the Total Army occasioned by revised doctrine, force structure, equipment, training, funding, and missions. The steadily increasing quantitative and qualitative improvement in the Warsaw Pact armies naturally affected the determination of U.S. Army force balance.

The Army transformed its training program to emphasize a "train as you expect to fight" philosophy; it modernized the program to produce highly skilled soldiers to compensate for the numerical manpower superiority of Soviet backed forces. The Army underlined support for this program by seeking and recruiting high-quality personnel and retaining skilled soldiers. Dispatching reserve units to the National Training Center (NTC) and emphasizing realistic combined arms training improved greatly the capability and effectiveness of those units. After successfully demonstrating its value in enhancing unit morale and reducing personnel turbulence, the New Manning System expanded the number of COHORT (Cohesion, Operational Readiness, and Training) and American Regimental System units.

In 1979 the Army National Guard -(ARNG) and the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR), hampered by personnel shortages and insufficient quantities of modern first line equipment, did not attain prescribed readiness objectives. Since that time, the Guard and reserve forces have enhanced greatly their ability to support the Total Army and meet readiness goals. The roundout and CAPSTONE programs further integrated reserve units with active organizations, and Army policies reinforced this association by training both components together and equipping them with compatible, if not the same, equipment. The "first to go, first to equip" policy, in particular, demonstrated the Army's determination to forge a total force and to recognize that without the reserve forces it lacked the man power and equipment to fulfill missions. Here too, the transition to a more effective Total Army forced adjustments with far-reaching


ramifications for the ongoing force modernization, force structure, and doctrine aspects of Army planning and operations.

As General Mahaffey stated, "The Total Army's challenge, then, in a world of increasingly constrained resources and unconstrained requirements, is to create a properly structured, superbly trained and well-equipped Total Army of balanced forces, capable of responding across the entire spectrum of conflict." (Army, Oct 84) The following chapters demonstrate how the Army successfully worked to meet this challenge during fiscal year 1984.



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Last updated 8 March 2004