Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1990-1991



The fast pace of political and economic change, which unfolded in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, produced remarkable developments during FY 90 and 91. These developments significantly affected the international security environment. Formal renunciation of the communist party by members of the Warsaw Pact during 1989 and 1990 resulted in both changes in government and major arms reductions agreements. The second Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) summit-attended by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Warsaw Pact, and all other European nations, except Albania-was held in Paris during 19-21 November 1990. CSCE leaders signed the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, which proclaimed a new era of democracy and peace on the continent. Leaders of NATO and Warsaw Pact nations also signed the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE). Although it did not specify troop levels, the CFE Treaty established limits on nonnuclear weapons-tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, and combat aircraft-and also provided for mutual verification inspections.

The Warsaw Pact, conceived by its creators as an alliance against NATO, was signed in Warsaw, Poland, in 1955 by the Soviet Union and its East European satellites: Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. Rejection of the communist party during 1989 and 1990 by East European member nations culminated in dissolution of the Warsaw Pact on 1 July 1991. One month later, President George Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in Moscow. START covered long-range nuclear arms that included air- and sea-launched cruise missiles, and the bombs and short-range attack missiles carried by heavy bombers. The treaty limited each country to 6,000 nuclear warheads and 1,600 strategic delivery systems. In November 1990 President Bush had heralded the CFE Treaty as the end of the Cold War; Gorbachev characterized START as the end of the arms race.

Favorable change in the Soviet Union was threatened in August 1991 when a group of hard-line communist party leaders briefly seized power


while Gorbachev was vacationing in the Crimea. The coup attempt was promptly put down, and the Supreme Soviet suspended activities of the Communist Party. Boris Yeltsin, elected president of the Russian Republic by popular vote in June 1991, played a major role in quelling the attempted coup. On 8 December Yeltsin and the leaders of Ukraine and Belorussia formed a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to replace the Soviet Union. On 25 December 1991, eleven of the twelve former Soviet republics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had become independent republics in September) officially joined the CIS. The Soviet Union disbanded, and Gorbachev resigned. Members of the CIS pledged to abide by all international agreements signed by the former Soviet Union, to pursue nuclear disarmament, to establish free market economies, and to respect human rights.

The collapse of the Soviet empire formed a watershed in international security considerations and American military strategy. Since the end of World War II, the primary concern of the U.S. defense establishment was a potential major war against the Soviet Union in Europe. The United States had followed a policy of containment against Soviet expansionism with a network of mutual security alliances, pre-positioned forces and combat materiel in Europe, and a strategic nuclear arsenal. In his address to the Aspen Institute Symposium in Colorado on 2 August 1990 President George Bush enunciated the importance of the alteration in the Soviet threat. The change both allowed a reduction of the U.S. armed services and called for substantive revisions in national military strategy. President Bush also declared that the world remained a dangerous place, a condition so vividly illustrated by Iraq's brutal invasion of Kuwait that very day.

The military strategy of the United States in the post-Cold War era still relied upon mutual security agreements and strategic deterrence, both nuclear and conventional. A forward presence of Army forces overseas would continue, although at markedly reduced levels. U.S. defense planners foresaw a cut of U.S. forces in Europe to 150,000 by 1995. Army forces stationed in Europe would consist of one armored corps with two divisions, and one division would remain in South Korea. Other elements of the U.S. forward presence included pre-positioned equipment afloat and ashore, joint and combined training exercises, security assistance programs, counternarcotics efforts, and disaster relief. Crisis response, or the rapid projection of armed power from CONUS, represented another major element of national military strategy. This required designing a contingency force from heavy, light, and SOF units supported by adequate strategic lift. Finally, the Army must be able to reconstitute, or expand beyond its existing force structure if faced by a major armed conflict.

The rising federal budget deficit caused Congress to slice President Ronald Reagan's original FY 90 Department of Defense budget request of $305.6 billion to $291.4. This action resulted in an FY 90 Army budget of


$77.7 billion. The epochal events that were occurring within the Warsaw Pact nations and ongoing budget deficit concerns created a sharply reduced DOD budget of $268.2 billion for FY 91, with the Army's share set at $73 billion. Most of the Army's $4.7 billion cut for FY 91 was taken from procurement. Because of declining congressional appropriations, the Army undertook two primary force structure studies, Project QUICKSILVER in late 1989 and Project VANGUARD in 1990. QUICKSILVER, which concentrated on the table of organization and equipment (TOE) Army, recommended reducing it by 160,000 and also cutting the table of distribution and allowances (T DA) Army (primarily HQDA, MACOMs, field operating agencies [FOAs], and installations) by 40,000 soldiers and 57,000 civilian man-years by FY 97. VANGUARD focused upon TDA organizations but also considered the reserve components. It concluded that HQDA should downsize by 20 percent, and the number of FOAs should decrease significantly. VANGUARD also identified 9,000 TDA enlisted personnel slots for elimination.

Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney advised Congress in June 1990 that the Bush administration was willing to consider a 25 percent cut in the armed services by 1995. This implied a reduction in Army active component strength to 520,000. President Bush publicly supported the 25 percent cut in his 2 August 1990 speech at Aspen, Colorado. The Army implemented programs during FY 90 and 91 that both reduced the numbers and maintained high quality in its military and civilian personnel. Two programs, Voluntary Separation Incentives and Special Separation Benefits (SSB), offered economic incentives to minimize involuntary separations of soldiers. Recruitment goals dropped sharply during the period. The active component enlisted objective of 119,901 in FY 89 fell to 78,241 in FY 91. Active component strength, 765,287 at the outset of FY 90, decreased to 706,160 by the end of FY 91. Reserve components recruitment dipped somewhat in FY 91, but both Ready Reserve and Army National Guard (ARNG)strengths actually increased from FY 90 to FY 91-from 594,319 to 668,755 and from 444,224 to 446,121 respectively. Army civilian personnel dropped from 455,776 in FY 90 to 435,195 in FY 91.

The revised national military strategy and personnel cuts of FY 90 and 91 were accompanied by force structure modifications. The Defense Department Total Force Policy Report to the Congress in December 1991 essentially reaffirmed the integrated roles of the active and reserve components formalized in 1973. The report continued the use of ARNG roundout brigades, but also stipulated that active component forces be able to deploy rapidly from CONUS to trouble spots and sustain themselves for the first thirty days. Relieved of the Warsaw Pact threat, the Army had more time to create additional forces for major combat operations. In FY 90 the Army had five corps and twenty-eight combat divisions (eighteen active component and ten ARNG), but it inactivated two active component


divisions in FY 91-the 2d Armored and the 9th Infantry (Motorized). Planners envisioned a four-corps, twenty-division force by 1995 (twelve active component, six ARNG, and two heavy reserve component cadre divisions). TRADOC force structure specialists anticipated that heavy cadre divisions could attain combat readiness twelve to fifteen months after mobilization, whereas new units would require two years.

A smaller Army required fewer installations, and concern for base realignments and closures (BRAC) was reemphasized during FY 90 and 91. The Defense Authorization Amendments and Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-526) had codified the proposal of the BRAC Commission appointed by the Secretary of Defense in 1988. This commission had recommended more than 100 Army installations for realignment or closure, despite expectations of a sustained active component strength of 781,000. In January 1990 the Secretary of Defense proposed realignment or closure of 26 additional Army installations, and in September he called for reducing or closing operations at 113 Army installations overseas. With passage of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-510) Congress tightened the BRAC process to include halting closure of any bases on the January 1990 list that employed more than 300 persons. Army spokesmen, expecting an active component reduced to 535,000 by the mid-1990s, in 1991 recommended base closures that included Fort Devens, Massachusetts; Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana; and Fort Ord, California.

Quality of life programs for soldiers and their dependents-housing, family support, child care, and health care-received priority consideration during FY 90 and 91, despite budget and personnel reductions. Both the Army's leaders and Congress recognized that maintenance of these programs, by contributing to good job performance and retention of high-quality personnel, had a beneficial effect on readiness. Since funding for new housing was minimal, the Army developed the Whole Neighborhood Revitalization Program for outmoded family quarters and encouraged private developers to construct housing on federal land and lease to soldiers. Army families encountered problems with rising health care costs similar to those experienced by the general public. The Army sought to control costs with its CHAMPUS Management Improvement Program and introduced the Gateway to Care program, a comprehensive health care delivery system similar to health maintenance organizations in the private sector. During Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM some family assistance centers operated twenty-four hours a day. Enlisted soldiers could exclude military pay received for service during DESERT STORM from federal income tax liability, while soldiers with ninety or more days active duty during the Persian Gulf war qualified for VA home loan guarantees.


Army training philosophy underwent substantial change during FY 90 and 91. Begun in FY 88, formulation of the Combined Arms Training Strategy (CATS) continued. CATS anticipated that Army training eventually will be based on devices rather than merely supported by them, which meant that training would decrease at institutions and increase at home stations. This concept accelerated development of training aids, devices, simulators and simulations (TADSS). By the end of FY 90 the Combined Army Tactical Training System (CATT) was networked to eight active component units, and branch trainers for close combat, aviation, air defense, and engineers were in development. In FY 90 the Army implemented the Leadership Assessment and Development Program (LADP) in selected Army schools for senior noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and officers. LADP utilized self-analysis and input by peers and faculty regarding individual leadership potential. The Reserve Component Training Development Action Plan (RC TDAP), approved in 1989, identified thirty-eight reserve component training problems. It focused initially upon a successful MOS skill level of 85 percent, leader development, and at least a C3 unit readiness rating.

The Big Five, the core of the Army's modernization program during the 1970s and 1980s-the Abrams M1 tank, the AH64 Apache attack helicopter, the UH60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, the Bradley M2/M3 fighting vehicle, and the Patriot air defense missile-performed well as a group during the Persian Gulf war. The drop in procurement money, from $14.8 billion in FY 89 to $9 billion in FY 91, demanded procurement policy adjustments. In FY 90 the Army adopted the "one-third" strategy, which meant fielding equipment to units according to their scheduled deployment times. Army planners decided in FY 91 to focus on modernizing by acquiring technically advanced new weapons systems rather than upgrading existing ones. For example, the revised Armored Systems Modernization plan curtailed production of the M1A1 and M1A2 tank in preference to the Block III and also sought a common heavy chassis for the Block III and three other weapons systems. Utilization of nondevelopmental items, or commercially developed products, was another modernization method emphasized by the Army during the period FY 90 and 91.

Concern by the Army with performing its mobilization, deployment, and sustainment responsibilities in combat operations graduated from peacetime preparations to the real thing during FY 90 and 91. The limited scale of Operation JUST CAUSE required neither activation of reserve component units nor sizable logistical support. Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, on the other hand, necessitated deployment of more than 300,000 Army personnel and heavy reliance for sustainment upon an 8,700 mile supply line from CONUS. Existing mobilization, deployment, and sustainment plans, and training programs for combat operations, served


the Army reasonably well, but the Army also benefited from the five month delay between DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. Postwar assessments indicated several problem areas, including the following: lack of a standardized Army training validation plan, inadequate provision by the Army Mobilization and Operations Planning System (AMOPS) for multiple scenarios under a 200,000 Selected Reserve mobilization, an absence of joint deployment training, and shortages in strategic lift capability.

Among the various special functions that the Army conducted for the civilian sector during FY 90 and 91, support for the war against illegal drugs and preservation of the environment ranked high among public concerns. In April 1990 the Army Counter-Narcotics Plan reinforced recent Army assistance for the drug war that included intelligence, loan of equipment, and Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) that instructed law enforcement personnel in combat and jungle operations. Central and South American governments increased their requests for U.S. Army MTTs during 1990 and 1991. Not restricted by the Posse Comitatus Act while under state control, the ARNG participated directly in twenty-five counter-drug operations in FY 90. The Army in the mid-1980s had begun a twenty-year program to eradicate pollution on its properties and prevent contamination. Prompted by the FY 90 Defense Authorization Act, the Army submitted a ten-year environmental strategic plan to the Department of Defense. Despite its efforts to comply with federal, state, and local environmental laws, the Army received 173 violation notices in FY 90. The Army designated more than $350 million for environmental cleanup in FY 91, while the Defense Environmental Restoration Program allotted another $209 million to Army projects.

As FY 91 ended, the Army leadership reflected upon the extensive changes that had occurred during the preceding two years in the world order and their effect upon national military strategy and the state of the Army. The threat of Soviet expansionism was being replaced by potential threats from many small countries. The Commonwealth of Independent States entered an unstable period as member nations renewed long-term religious and cultural rivalries and boundary disputes. A number of third world countries were acquiring the ability to engage in high-intensity land warfare by assembling arsenals of armor, missiles, and chemical weapons.

The Army budget had experienced six years of real decline, and the trend was likely to continue. The Army leadership was prepared to reduce the size, but not the quality, of its trained and combat-ready force. The new Army Chief of Staff, General Gordon R. Sullivan, declared that "the mistakes of dismantling battle-proven Armies following major twentieth century wars must not be repeated in the post-Cold War era. It took fifteen years of hard work and dedication to build today's Army. We must avoid tearing it apart as we reshape it for the future."


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Last updated 30 October 2003