Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1986



Despite reductions in personnel budget accounts required by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, the Army in 1986 was able to surpass its goals for both recruitment and retention of enlisted personnel. Moreover, the quality of recruits, as indicated by standardized tests, remained high. These achievements were attributable partly to fair and competitive compensation, educational benefits, and cash enlistment bonuses. Whether such good results could be achieved in the face of possible future budget constraints is problematical. The 1986 Department of Defense Appropriations Act prohibition against payment of an enlistment bonus and Army College Fund benefits to the same individual threatened to affect both future enlistments and retention of sufficient skill levels.

As Army leaders stressed at the beginning of the fiscal year, quality of life programs form another important element in attracting and keeping the best personnel. As projected, the Army moved ahead during the year on programs for financial planning assistance and child care. Through a new Army Community Service initiative, soldiers and their families were able to receive debt liquidation counseling. Some other Army Community Service programs, however, suffered from insufficient funding. The outlook was brighter for child care, as Congress funded the improvement or new construction of nineteen child development centers-thirteen more than in the previous year.

The Army met its commitment to alleviate financial hardships incurred in permanent change of station moves, although room for improvement remained in this area. New allowances, helpful especially to junior enlisted families, included increases in household goods weight allowances, and allowances for travel as well as temporary lodging for dependents of enlisted soldiers in the continental United States. These changes will increase payments to individual service members for permanent change of station moves by about fifty percent. Even with this improvement, however, overall reimbursement for service


members, particularly in the junior enlisted ranks, will be less than that for civilian Army employees in comparable pay grades. Also, there was no increase in payments to unmarried service members who have no dependents.

Commissary construction retained a high priority among quality of life programs, but there was a slight scaling back of planned expenditures in this area. Whereas the Army before the start of fiscal year 1986 intended to spend $124.8 million to replace or renovate nineteen commissaries worldwide, these figures later were reduced to $118.4 million and eighteen respectively.

In a significant shift of emphasis in its safety program, the service moved away from external inspections and toward the teaching of safety skills. This new thrust is part of a five-year plan to reduce accidents to an absolute minimum. While the Army's announced goal of an accident-free record probably is not achievable, the target serves as a spur for commanders to do their utmost to make soldiers conscious of the need for constant attention to safety. The redirection of the safety program indicates the desire of Army leaders to increase efforts in areas that affect both quality of life and readiness.

Among the most important of such areas is health. In line with the Army leadership's emphasis on programs that aid both in attracting and keeping highly qualified people and maintaining readiness, the Army in fiscal year 1986 implemented several new initiatives. With the assignment of each Army family to a primary care physician under the Army Medical Enhancement Program, the service anticipates the elimination of uncertainty among its members as to sources of medical care. The initial clinic under the Primary Medical Care for the Uniformed Services program opened-the first of a projected two dozen or more such facilities. The service also started testing recruits and active duty personnel for evidence of the virus that is believed to cause the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). As resources permitted, the testing was available also to family members and civilian employees and their family members who are authorized government medical care. These tests, and measures taken to deal with positive test results, reflected the Army's and the Department of Defense's concern for the protection of the health of the nation's military forces. Similarly, the Army's markedly strengthened campaign against smoking demonstrated the leadership's willingness to take strong measures to guard the health of Army personnel.


These various efforts to ensure quality came at a time when the Army faced a continuing ceiling on active military end strength. To remain under this ceiling, the service again relied on substitution of civilians for soldiers, increases in productivity through greater use of technology, and transfer of missions to the reserve components. Rising Army Reserve and Army National Guard enlistments helped to ensure that the reserve components could absorb these additional missions.

Besides complying with legal restrictions on its end strength, the Army faced considerable difficulties in distributing soldiers among important military occupational specialties (MOSs). Resolved to reduce the MOS imbalances as much as possible, the service instituted a test program designed to force reenlistees to designate an alternative skill or, in the case of initial reenlistments, face dismissal from the Army.

This necessarily coercive action potentially conflicted with the aims of the Unit Manning System, which is designed to induce stability and cohesion in Army units. The Army's leadership has predicted that the two elements of the system, COHORT and the U.S. Army Regimental System, when fully implemented, will produce a sense of pride and belonging in the unit. While implementation continued during the year, it was not possible at year's end to evaluate fully the effects of the Unit Manning System, either on its own terms or in conjunction with potentially countervailing factors such as the redistribution of personnel in military occupational specialties.

Results of the Army's ongoing fight against drug abuse were more clearly positive. An aggressive approach to this problem bore fruit, as drug offenses continued to decline significantly. Other discipline indicators were more mixed, suggesting the possibility that more intensive campaigns aimed at other areas of misconduct might be worthwhile.

Combat effectiveness, which unit stability and cohesion enhance, is a product primarily of training. In recent years the leadership has greatly increased its emphasis in the Army on training for the operational level of war. The Army's leaders held high expectations at the beginning of the fiscal year for the impetus that the publication of the revised Field Manual 100-5, Operations, would give to this training. The new FM did stimulate considerable professional discussion and promised thereby to advance the Army's training and capabilities in the operational art.

Articulated in FM 100-5, the Army's AirLand Battle doctrine requires especially effective translation into troop training


and education of higher leaders and commanders if the doctrine is to meet its potential. At the start of the year, the Army looked toward computer-driven simulations to improve training in this vital area. Expectations that these simulations would continue to grow as an effective alternative to the older manual training simulations were met as fielding of the Army Training Battle Simulation System progressed.

Confident that the service's research, development, and acquisition programs were providing the excellent equipment that modern battle demands, the Army's leaders nonetheless acknowledged that problems existed in quality assurance and the pace of modernization. Among major weapons systems, the M1 Abrams tank and the upgraded M1A1 were notable for the success of the product improvement program that assures their quality as they are fielded. The M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, on the other hand, became the subject of a highly publicized controversy over the ability of its armor to protect troops inside the vehicle. An interruption of the testing, but not the fielding, of the Bradley resulted. Two small but potentially very dangerous faults in the design and maintenance of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter forced the Army twice to ground its Apache fleet and halt deliveries of the aircraft. These incidents marred an otherwise successful first year of fielding of the Apache, production rates for which showed steady increases. Procurement of the helicopter's primary weapon, the Hellfire antitank missile, ceased during the year because of a production backlog attributable to problems with the missile's guidance circuits. In general, budget cuts threatened to retard the Army's equipment modernization program at a time when adverse publicity about defects and cost overruns in major weapons systems tended to overshadow successes in the procurement of other, less publicized, systems.

Readiness of equipment is one of the essentials for mobilization; personnel readiness is another. The Army's senior leaders emphasized the manpower elements of reserve component readiness in their posture statement for the fiscal year. Events in 1986 reflected this emphasis. Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) strength increased significantly and the Army carried out a congressionally-mandated partial muster of the IRR in order to test personnel mobilization procedures. In the retiree recall program, the service tested mobilization procedures at the installation level through a limited recall of volunteer retirees to active duty. Individual augmentee strength grew by more than ten percent.


There also were improvements in two areas that involve readiness of equipment and installations, in addition to that of personnel. The Army National Guard mobilization exercise program was extended to all guard units, and the Corps of Engineers prepared mobilization master plans for most major installations in the continental United States.

Army officials were concerned, too, about the nation's ability to deploy its military forces effectively. Army support for Navy programs designed to improve strategic sealift was high on the Army's list of efforts to enhance joint deployment capabilities. Despite the Army's continued support of such programs, the decline of the U.S. Merchant Marine fleet, industry containerization trends, and large projected surge shipping requirements still threatened to erode further the nation's ability to meet emergency sealift needs.

Pre-positioning of materiel configured to unit sets (POMCUS) is an important means of reducing the airlift and sealift necessary to ensure the timely presence on the battlefield of fully equipped U.S. Army forces. The Army again demonstrated the value of the POMCUS program during the REFORGER 86 exercise in Europe, as the participating troops drew from POMCUS stocks large numbers of vehicles, only one percent of which were not immediately operational. But as Army leaders pointed out at the beginning of the fiscal year, adequate readiness requires increases in the POMCUS program.

Sustainment was no less a concern than deployment. With a high percentage of the Army's nondivisional maintenance companies assigned to the reserve components, service leaders focused on the Regional Maintenance Training Site (RMTS) program as an important means of ensuring that combat service support units have the qualified soldiers they need. Although a variety of difficulties prevented the expected establishment of two pilot RMTSs in fiscal year 1986, these problems were near solution by year's end. In addition, the Army had added two more pilot sites, for a total of four projected to be operational early in fiscal year 1987.

Army officials also dilated on another important aspect of sustainment, industrial preparedness planning. The Army's efforts in this area, which include the creation of an automated data base for analysis of industrial base issues, continued within the constraints of a limited budget.

Major evolutionary force structure changes, one of the Army's highest priorities, progressed during the year. Converted to the new light infantry configuration in 1985, the 7th In-


fantry Division (Light) underwent a year-long certification in 1986. The 25th Infantry Division completed its conversion to the new light design during the year, while the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), coping with problems in the availability of facilities, continued to build its combat force structure. The Army activated the 6th Infantry Division (Light) and reactivated the 29th Infantry Division (Light), Army National Guard. Adopting a structure based on the light infantry division force design, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) began its conversion. Among the heavy divisions, which are being reorganized along Division 86 lines, the 2d and 9th Infantry Divisions completed their conversions to new designs. In sum, these changes represented significant progress toward the achievement of the flexible, effective, and balanced total force structure that the Army requires to ensure its ability to respond successfully to any type of conflict.

Achieving this structure, and equipping as well as providing for the men and women in the force, is a tremendously complex undertaking that places unrelenting demands on the Army's management skills. The Army's methods of dealing with this complexity are many and varied; any appraisal of them in a limited space can only touch on a few of the more prominent ones. In procurement, multiyear contracting received considerable impetus from both within and without the Army. The service's estimated saving for the fiscal year of approximately $773.2 million through the use of multiyear contracts demonstrated the worth of the program. At the same time, reductions in total obligation authority challenged the service's ability to maintain management flexibility in administering the program.

Some resource management approaches seemed to respond particularly well to the Army leadership's call for innovation in meeting the challenges associated with limited funds. The successful Model Installation Program continued to produce money-saving suggestions, and expansion of the program through Army National Guard participation promised even greater economies in the future. Productivity capital investment programs had an excellent return on investment of $17 for every $1 invested. At Fort Ord, California, the leasing of Army land for a mobile home park to alleviate a severe housing shortage for enlisted personnel stood out as an example of management ingenuity that addressed simultaneously the fiscal and human dimensions of Army programs.


In the critical area of information management, the Army moved closer to its goal of a single, fully interoperable information base. One important facet of progress was the acceleration of the effort to standardize data elements and develop a data encyclopedia that defines them and identifies their proponents, users, and storage locations. Another was the establishment of the Personnel Information Systems Command, which evolved the concept of service centers to develop, process, store, and transmit personnel and personnel-related data.

The U.S. Army in 1986 was a force in transition. Because of the costs of the Vietnam War, the Army a decade later was only about midway through its first truly significant force modernization program since that conflict. Fiscal constraints during the year complicated modernization efforts and strained Army commanders' and managers' abilities to fulfill the expectations of the Army's senior leadership. Determination to weather a situation of comparative austerity for an indeterminate time perhaps best characterized the service by the end of the year.



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Last updated 17 November 2003