The Colonel Hilton quoted in the article as saying the study is alarmist is repeating the party line trying to downplay what I feel to be a very well done study. I can say that because I dont work for Gen Schoomaker. I have been very much against the current Army reorganization. Essentially Schoomaker took 33 brigades each with 3 manuever battalions and created 43 by removing a battalion from each brigade and replacing it with a recon battalion [cavalry] which is not equiped to fight as a manuever element. We are creating more jobs for Colonel's without improving the Army's ability to fight. There was alot of criticism for Gen Shinseki buying the Stryker but Schoomaker's imprint on the Army will be even worse. This modular design is based on the late 1950's Pentomic organization which was abandoned when it was determined the battle group's lacked sustainability. Subscriber article. www.armytimes.com July 25, 2005 Stretched too thin Modular brigades wonât save Army from being short-handed in crisis; Col. calls Rand report âalarmistâ By Sean D. Naylor Times staff writer An Army-financed report says that unless the service increases the number of heavy brigades in its force structure or sees its deployments scaled back significantly, readiness will suffer and there will be few, if any, brigades to turn to in a crisis. And plans to transform 33 maneuver brigades into 43 âmodularâ brigades will not solve the problem, states the report, which is titled âStretched Thin â Army Forces for Sustained Operations,â and produced by the Rand Corp.âs Arroyo Center, an Army-sponsored research organization. Sixteen brigade combat teams are deployed currently to Afghanistan and Iraq. The Armyâs goal is to give each active-duty brigade a two-year gap between deployments, and to deploy each National Guard brigade no more than one year out of every six. But the Rand report says meeting the goal for active-component heavy and medium (i.e. Stryker) brigades will be impossible without increasing the number of heavy brigades in the force or sharply dropping the demand for Army forces in combat zones. âTo meet requirements levels in the upper range that we have considered â 14 to 20 brigades â the Army would experience serious problems in AC [active-component] unit readiness, and the nation would have few, if any, ready AC brigades to turn to in a crisis,â the report states. But Col. Paul Hilton, a division chief in the force management directorate of the Armyâs deputy chief of staff for operations and plans, or G-3, says the reportâs âalarmistâ tone does not square with numbers that he said âvalidateâ the Armyâs transformation plans. Four fixes The Rand report outlined the pros and cons of four policy options that might alleviate the strain of repeated deployments: â¢Scaling back the number of brigades deployed to 10 or fewer. This would allow all active brigades at least two years at home between deployments, and would give the Army more than 20 brigades available for other contingencies, including at least 11 heavy or medium units, the report says. But such a drawdown would have to be based on political decisions, and the Army staff is not counting on anything like that happening in the near future. âOur planning has been based on assuming the current level of commitment for the foreseeable future,â Hilton said. â¢Filling rotational requirements without regard to whether a brigade was heavy, medium or light. âSuch a course carries operational risk if the theater environment is not benign of missions requiring armor protection and on-the-ground mobility,â the report states. âTo date, the Army has hedged against such risks by deploying forces to Iraq that are predominantly heavy. Moreover, when overseas rotation requirements increase beyond about 17 brigades, AC time at home falls below two years even assuming such flexibility.â â¢Scrapping transformation plans to convert heavy National Guard brigades to infantry units. âThis would also require the Army to find the resources to make all these units â including the divisional brigades â equal in readiness to AC brigades,â the report says. â¢Adding heavy force structure to the active Army, either by changing the mix of units for the Armyâs 43 modular brigades or adding heavy brigades beyond the planned 43. But either of these courses of action âwould call for finding billions of dollars well beyond the current Army modularity plan and would take years to achieve,â according to Rand. Whatever approach the Army takes, the service will have to make trade-offs regarding its reliance on the active and reserve components, the types of training that units will require for different operations, and resources that might be made available to transform the National Guard and to increase active Army force structure, according to Rand. âOur analysis suggests that the challenge is profound and that making the trade-offs will not be easy,â the report says. Hilton said the Army does not share the reportâs gloomy outlook. âThe tone is a little alarmist. The title is kind of alarmist, but I think when you look at the data, it doesnât really support the title,â he said. Hilton did acknowledge that the mathematics on which Rand based its conclusions were âall sound.â âOverall, weâre actually pleased that it validates in large measure exactly what the Army has been doing to take steps to mitigate or ameliorate some of the problems that the report identifies that could potentially crop up,â Hilton said. âIn our view, it is very supportive of exactly the path the Army has been on.â As examples, he cited the Armyâs plans to increase the number of brigades from 33 to 43, and to make those brigades more âstandardized,â or modular, allowing the higher commanders to use them on a âplug-and-playâ basis. Hilton disputed a thesis of the report, that if the present rate of deployments continues, the service will find it impossible to give active-duty brigades two years at home station between rotations. âI donât think thatâs correct,â he said. âOnce we get the other new brigades built, when weâve actually got 43 in the active, and we have recycled the reserve component brigades â gotten beyond the six-year cycle for those units that were mobilized immediately post-2001 â then we should get into our steady state requirement, where in our view â¦ weâll be generating 20 brigade combat teams a year,â he said. Hilton estimates that would not happen until 2008, but every new modular brigade created in the meantime relieves stress on the force. Hilton also took issue with Randâs apparent assumption that heavy units deployed to Iraq are there because their armored vehicles were considered necessary for the Iraqi battlefield. âLots of the heavy units over there,â he said. âTheir tanks are back at home station.â Thatâs true, but some heavy-unit commanders have complained privately about being forced to leave their armor behind. Also, an article in the March-April issue of Armor magazine, the official publication of the Armor Center and School, is blunt about the need for tanks and Bradleys in Baghdad. âThe new fight brings to light a cautionary message to the force â be wary of eliminating or reducing the option of heavy armor; it has proven decisive and has been the critical enabler that allowed TF Baghdad to win every fight, everyday,â the article reads. Hilton also disagreed with the reportâs assessment that units returning from Iraq are not fully trained for major theater wars. âMy friends who are brigade commanders and who come back from a deployment are not gonna tell you their unit is not ready,â he said. âTheyâll tell you that itâs readier than itâs ever been.â Rand argues that when units have to return to Iraq or Afghanistan without sufficient time at home station, they are unable to conduct the training cycles that âbegin with small unit exercises and culminate in large force-on-force exercises at home station or combat training centers.â Perhaps the most likely solution will be the first in Randâs list of possibilities: a dramatic cut in the number of brigades deployed to Iraq. U.S. leaders have said repeatedly their strategy in Iraq is to train enough Iraqi security forces to allow U.S. troops to steadily depart the country. But they have consistently refused to put a date on when any major drawdowns might occur. Yet the British newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, reported July 10 on a leaked British government memo claiming the U.S. government plans to reduce forces in Iraq to about 66,000 troops in 2006. While Hilton said he had not heard of that, he said the Armyâs plans assume the number of brigades deployed to Iraq would not be cut. âItâs not our decision, so we have to assume steady state until told otherwise,â said another colonel in the Pentagon. But âthe average bear would tell you that you could probably safely say it would go down.â If the numbers drop to 66,000 as the newspaper reported, âthen shoot, that helps solve the problem,â said the colonel, who has extensive experience in Iraq. The colonel said he doesnât view the present rate of deployments with a sense of looming crisis, because the effort to train the Iraqi forces is bound to bear fruit. âYou have to believe, watching the energy and the resources being expended to make those security forces a more capable, competent element in that country, youâd have to assume that they are going to continue to take a much more increasing role over there,â he said. Although the Arroyo Center is funded entirely by the Army, and the Army often gives the center topics to study, the latest report was initiated by Rand, Hilton said.