Army Shift from Brigades Back to Divisions Raises Concerns Among Retired Generals
2023/07/19

The Army is undergoing a significant change as divisions are returning to prominence. In the past 20 years, the focus of combat and operations was primarily at the brigade combat team (BCT) level during the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Divisions were mainly responsible for coordinating assets and operations from higher headquarters, while brigades operated autonomously in the field.

However, recent developments suggest that divisions will regain their importance. The restructuring of the Army's force structure in the 0s led to the transfer of assets from divisions to brigades, allowing the latter function independently during GWOT. Thisorganization also eliminated unnecessary staff positions, making room for more combat soldiers and officers.

Now, there is a debate about whether power should be shifted back to the division level or remain with the brigades. Some argue that divisions provide better planning and command capabilities, especially in complex combined arms warfare scenarios. They believe that divisions with fuller staffs can facilitate long-term planning and decision-making, which is crucial in peer-to-peer conflicts.

On the other hand, proponents of the brigade-centric model emphasize the effectiveness of BCTs in combat. They argue that the close-knit relationships and teamwork developed within brigades through training and shared experiences outweigh the benefits of centralizing assets at higher levels. They fear that moving assets back to divisions may introduce redundant bureaucracy, slow decision-making, and reduce unit flexibility and interoperability.

The Army's recent struggles with recruiting further complicate the situation. Restructuring the force requires personnel and resources, which are currently limited. Strengthening divisions could potentially come at the expense of brigade power, which is undesirable.

To address these challenges, some suggest leveraging technology to maximize the use of available personnel. By utilizing tools that enhance understanding of individuals' personalities and skills, the Army can ensure that the right people are in the right positions.

In conclusion, the Army is experiencing a shift towards emphasizing divisions once again. While there are differing opinions on the optimal level of command and control, the goal is to optimize force structure for warfighting while maintaining combat effectiveness at the brigade level. The Army will need to navigate these changes while considering recruitment challenges and leveraging technology to make the most of its available resources.

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