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FORCE 2025: Informing the Army’s future structure

Kirkhill

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I've posted this before but I'll do it again. The Congressional Budget Office periodically publishes a Primer for the members of Congress as to the basics behind the US Military and some of the cost factors involved in operating them. It shows some very granular visuals of what the component parts are. For the Army, the structures of the three BCTs start at page 17.



In answer to your question Kirkhill: No! We are not matching them. In the beginning as we started our turn of the century Army Transformation processes we were designing something similar to the Interim Brigade Combat Team (which would become the Stryker BCT).

We were close albeit our structure had several deficiencies principally lack of artillery, lack of mortars, an eventual lack of direct fire systems (albeit we serendipitously rectified that in part with Leo 2s), lack of ATGMs, and a lack of the divisional level and above enablers (rockets, more artillery, air defence, sustainment and mobility enablers, ABCT follow up forces etc)

🍻
Sorry for having missed your original post and thanks for the repost. And we agree that we are not matching them... and have got a long way to go to catch up.

Having said that the fastest route to catching up within the Force 2025 construct is the acquisition of man portable weapons that can be carried by both LAV battalions and Light battalions.

Sorting out the artillery, and SPHs and SHORADs and Cavalry and ISR and Reserve integration is probably unlikely before 2030.

From your CBO report

The US Army maintains 60 Brigade Combat Teams of which 32 are Active Federal Forces and 28 are held by State National Guards.

Of the 32 Active BCTs 12 are Armored with Abrams and Bradley's, (38% ABCT), 7 are Stryker-borne infantry (22% SBCT) and 13 are other, lighter, infantry (40% IBCT).

Of the 28 state National Guard BCTs fully 21 of them are light infantry of various types (75% IBCT). There are only 2 Stryker Brigades (7% SBCT) and 5 Armored Brigades (18% ABCT).

So, the first thing I could note is that both the Federal Army and the state National Guards skew towards the light end of the spectrum. This is especially true if the Stryker BCTs are seen as motorized light infantry that can operate with or without their Strykers.

The Federal Army is 40% Light and 22% Stryker-Light or 62% infantry.

The State National Guards are 75% Light and 7% Stryker-Light or 82% Infantry.

Combined the federalized US Army is 57 % Light and 15% Stryker-Light or 72% Infantry.


The Heavy army, the 17 ABCTs, constitute 28% of the federalized Army with 12 of them, or 71% of the Armored force being operated by the Active Army. Only 5, or 29% of the Armored force is held by the National Guards. That is 5/28ths of the National Guard, or 18%. It is 5/60ths of the US Army when federalized, or 8%.



Infantry BCTs require 4560 PYs to man fully. They eat up 15,910 PYs to man and support.

Stryker BCTs only require an additional 120 direct PYs (4680) to man. On the other hand they require a total of 16,670 PYs to man and support them.

Armored BCTs have the lowest direct manning requirements (4040). Their total manpower requirements fall between the IBCTs and SBCTs at 16,330.


On the other hand the National Guard and Reserves seem well suited to Artillery Brigades and to Aviation Brigades - helicopters being particularly useful in DomOps.
 

FJAG

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Remember that the Active Army's light BCTs are primarily specialized ones such as airborne, mountain, air mobile while the ARNG ones are primarily straight up leg organizations. The Active Army ones are more in the nature of quick reaction forces while the ARNG ones are more in the nature of a follow-on filler, general purpose force.

Costs are also an issue. Even for the US Army, there are budget limitations. Note that when you convert an Active IBCT to an Active ABCT there is a tremendous capital cost component but on the other hand the annual operating costs do not vary much because each has roughly the same manpower to pay although the fuel and ammo and maintenance budgets go up a bit with the ABCT.

Conversely, there is a very large cost saving when you convert and Active BCT to an equivalent ARNG BCT. The annual cost goes down by almost 2/3.

There is a cost comparison tool that accompanies the CBO primer which assists members of Congress to determine the rough order of magnitude for making changes to the military's force structure. You can find it here.


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Brad Sallows

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I suppose ground can be held with a relatively small force if the enemy can be denied from getting there at all.

If infantry are expected to be more vulnerable, I'd rather invest more in capabilities to protect them and have fewer infantry relative to other arms, than write people off.
 

Kirkhill

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I suppose ground can be held with a relatively small force if the enemy can be denied from getting there at all.

If infantry are expected to be more vulnerable, I'd rather invest more in capabilities to protect them and have fewer infantry relative to other arms, than write people off.

A curtain of shells and a deep hole rather than walls of steel?
 

CBH99

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Just reading through the back & forth between members in the thread lately - noteable FJAG & Kirkhill - this has turned into quite the interesting discussion. The math and percentages being thrown back & forth alone has been mind numbing (I'm not great at math) but fun to follow as the suggestions/ideas are backed with real world examples.
 

daftandbarmy

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Just reading through the back & forth between members in the thread lately - noteable FJAG & Kirkhill - this has turned into quite the interesting discussion. The math and percentages being thrown back & forth alone has been mind numbing (I'm not great at math) but fun to follow as the suggestions/ideas are backed with real world examples.

Don't encourage them! ;)

Be Safe Watch Out GIF by Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
 

GR66

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A SHORAD element optimized for UAV-type threats (guns and plentiful, cheap missiles vs. expensive heavy missiles) to keep their Battalion Tactical Group/Brigade-level UAV assets away from our maneuver units. Larger air threats (helicopters, fast air, high altitude UAVs, etc. from their Divisional levels and above) can be left to heavier AD units and our own fast air.

Jet-Powered Coyote Drone Defeats Swarm In Army Tests

I can imagine pretty great value to having a couple of troops of vehicles equipped with these to sweep the sky above maneuver Brigade or Battle Group of enemy spotter UAVs. Blind their arty so they can't as easily hit their targets with precision and strike back with precision munitions.
 

Kirkhill

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I suppose ground can be held with a relatively small force if the enemy can be denied from getting there at all.

If infantry are expected to be more vulnerable, I'd rather invest more in capabilities to protect them and have fewer infantry relative to other arms, than write people off.

Just rethinking Brad's comment here and remembering a Canadian precedent: 22-25 April 1951 - Kapyong and 2 PPCLI - raised with Special Force men contracted for 18 months direct from civilian life as of June 1950.

3 "light" infantry battalions from 3 national governments supported by a regt of 25 pdrs from a 4th nation, a mortar company and a troop of 15 tanks from a 5th. And a division from the "host" nation. And lots of air support. The tanks were used as DFS artillery in mobile pillboxes.

Key element was the terrain - mountains and narrow valleys and lots of rivers and creeks.



Also, taking a look at FJAG's CBO report something else stood out.


3:1

Each combined arms Brigade Combat Team, with 4,000 men, requires, in US usage, something like 16,000 men to field the BCT, including the BCT itself. So 4,000 men in the field and 12,000 men in support.

In the Canadian context, where we aspire to maintain 3 similar active Brigades (Groups/Combat Teams) then that would suggest an active regular Army requirement of 48,000. Given our current numbers that alternately suggests one active Brigade Group, or three independent Battle Groups are a more realistic goal if we wish to fit into a US "shield wall". There is no foreseeable Force 2025 structure for the Reserves/Militia. That will have to wait for Force 2030.

On the other hand all bets are off when allocating bodies to "Special" Forces, whether in the form of CANSOFCOM or the 1950 2nd Battalions of the RCR, PPCLI and R22eR.
 

daftandbarmy

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Each combined arms Brigade Combat Team, with 4,000 men, requires, in US usage, something like 16,000 men to field the BCT, including the BCT itself. So 4,000 men in the field and 12,000 men in support.

Ahem... 'people' :)
 

McG

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… remembering a Canadian precedent: 22-25 April 1951 - Kapyong and 2 PPCLI - raised with Special Force men contracted for 18 months direct from civilian life as of June 1950.
In this case “direct from civilian life” is a bit misleading as the senior officers and sr NCO were all WW II vets, and many of the jr officers & jr NCO were also war vets.
 

daftandbarmy

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In this case “direct from civilian life” is a bit misleading as the senior officers and sr NCO were all WW II vets, and many of the jr officers & jr NCO were also war vets.

And, IIRC, we didn't deploy the reserves because they were focused on the Central Front in Germany.
 

Kirkhill

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McG is correct that there was a high percentage of troops that had only been released 5 years previous. But the Special Force only required a brigade of volunteers from that world.

As to the Central Front in Germany - St Laurent was just getting that organized, in part due to the sudden Korean emergency. Canada only had three battalions of infantry in 1950. It had just joined the newly formed NATO in April 1949.

Canada followed the same practice in 1950 that it had in the 1890s with the Strathcona's for South Africa and in 1914 with Gault's PPCLI. Even the CEF and the WW2 forces were not made up of "Government" soldiers. Soldiers in government service were asked it they wanted to go overseas. They weren't commanded. They joined with civilians recruited off the streets.

Politicians have been running from division for a very long time.
 

Kirkhill

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It is Air Force and it is US ..... but it references the Arctic and its importance to the US. An issue of concern to us. Do we want them mowing our lawn?


The Department of the Air Force in July 2020 unveiled its first-ever Arctic Strategy, which outlined the importance of the region as Russia builds up its military presence and China looks to normalize its own presence there. As the strategy passes its one-year anniversary, the department is working to implement it. This effort will be a “lifetime effort for us—we got a lot more to go,” Hinote said.
 

Kirkhill

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Of Light Infantry and ATGMs on the armoured battlefield

During the early nineties, 24 Airmobile Brigade and the Multi-National Airborne Division (MNAD) was designed to be a highly mobile ATGW screening force, exploiting the mobility of small vehicles like the Longline Light Strike Vehicle (Ground Mobile Weapon Platform), quickly carried forward by Puma and Chinook support helicopters.

From Think Defence via Think Defence on Load Carriage and Daft and Barmy on British Military Current Events




 

TangoTwoBravo

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I’d like to zoom-in to what capabilities we’d need to develop for the Canadian Army, based on analysis of the types of operations and opponents we could face. While some would like to measure against the Russian Army or the Chinese, I am not sure how likely such a face to face encounter is. I think, though, that a battle with a 2nd or 3rd World country with some Russian equipment, doctrine and training is certainly a realistic opponent short of a global war. The recent engagements between Azerbaijan and Armenia show that small countries we do not normally associate with world powers can acquire and effectively employ very modern equipment.

A term that has been used in reference to the Russian military is the “Snow Dome.” It is a visualization of Russian capabilities as a “snow dome” that you see in gift shops, with the Russian forces inside the Snow Dome being protected by a variety of complementary systems ranging including air defence, rockets and artillery, EW and other systems. While somewhat defensive in nature, it can be seen as offensive as well as the Snow Dome is mobile. To get at Russian forces, whether on offence or defence, you have to deal with the Snow Dome.

Snow Dome article from 2017

A simple historical example would be the Egyptian defensive positions established in the 1973 War after they seized their bridgeheads over the Suez Canal. They established a Sagger and SAM belt that Israeli armour and aircraft destroyed themselves on. The Egyptians were finally defeated when they were drawn out from their somewhat immobile “Snow Dome” in their effort to put additional pressure on the Israelis to try to help the faltering Syrians on the Golan. There were also Israeli adaptations, mostly a return to combined arms operations along with some tactical humility.

The Snow Dome concept can be seen at all levels, but I think that the Canadian Army needs to look at the defeating the tactical level while being aware of the effects that could be felt from higher level systems. A 2nd World opponent (or even a well-organized non-state actor such as Hezbollah) could well have modern, capable AD, EW, rocket and tube artillery, UAVs (armed and otherwise) along with the tanks, IFVs, ATGMs and infantry that we tend to focus on.

Could a CMBG simply rely on systems held by a multi-national Division to defeat the Snow Dome and allow us to do our Battle Group attacks in our traditional manner? What capabilities would we need to develop to defeat the Snow Dome if we were attacking a battalion group supported by Russian-style systems that could be found at brigade and possibly division level?
 

FJAG

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I’d like to zoom-in to what capabilities we’d need to develop for the Canadian Army, based on analysis of the types of operations and opponents we could face. ...
I would think that the key doctrinal lesson that comes out of the last seven or eight years of conflicts is that we should be prepared for having to face major weapon systems regardless of the place of conflict that we go to.

I'm still a believer in that we should design our brigades as our primary all-arms self-sufficient formation rather than a concept of building blocks to put together task specific battlegroup. I'm still a believer in a light (air mobile capable), medium (primarily LAV Mechanized) and heavy brigade (with tanks) structure but within each brigade structure there should be a similarity of design and capability.

That said, the brigade should be able to spin off a battlegroup-sized slice of itself from its internal resources in order to put a fully balanced task force into the field while the Army should also be able to scale up into a multiple brigade force. To me that means that each brigade should have:

1) three manoeuvre battalions, each with its own organic infantry, direct gun fire, ATGM, and mortar/light rocket and/or attack drone capability. To me that means eliminate straight infantry battalions and armour regiments in exchange for combined arms battalions which, however, should come in two infantry heavy and one direct fire heavy battalion in each brigade;

2) a cavalry battalion with three combined arms recce/UAV, infantry, direct fire/ATGM, mortar/light rocket and or attack drone companies so that a complete combined arms cavalry company can be spun off to augment a battle group.

3) an artillery regiment of three six-gun batteries (M777 for the light brigade; armoured SPs for the others); one fire support coord battery capable of providing one brigade level FSCC, three BG level FSCCs, and nine FOO/JTAC teams; one STA battery capable of providing three STA troops each containing an STACC/ASCC, and three troops with combined CMR and UAV capabilities; one AD Battery with three troops each with radars and SHORAD systems capable of engaging everything from light UAVs to low-level fast air;

4) an engineer regiment with three squadron HQs and an assortment of troops providing a minimum of two of each (preferably three) of mine clearance and EOD, vertical and horizontal construction, combat engineer and water supply;

5) a service battalion with three company HQs and an assortment of platoons providing a minimum of two of each (preferably three) of supply, transport and maintenance platoons. IMHO the service bn should also be the administrative headquarters for the brigade FD ambulance and an MP platoon (each of which is capable of splitting into three slices); and

6) a brigade headquarters with a signals squadron and a military intelligence company with the capability to split off a minimum of two (preferably three) command and control cells with a signals troop and an MI platoon each.

IMHO, the NSE concept needs major revision so that the NSE is responsible solely for communications with national logistics resources and with sufficient resources to transport from air/sea head to warehousing facilities while the deployed service company deals with the NSE and all logistics forward from the NSE. The service company must be self contained and capable of forward deployment away from the NSE as required.

Over and above the resources within the brigades, the Army should also have additional "divisional" resources capabilities (which could and should be equipped for deployment but manned by dedicated regular and reserve or double hatted positions from within the Army;

1) a combat support brigade with:
  • a deployable brigade headquarters;
  • one or two general support artillery regiments with long range rocket capability; medium range radars, medium range UAVs, attack drone capabilities, medium level AD capability; and together capable of forming one div level FSCC, STACC, and ASCC;
  • a general support engineer regiment with a capability to form a div level Engr Sup CC;
  • an EW regiment;
  • a cyber warfare regiment;
  • a divisional signals regiment;
  • an MI regiment;
  • a CBRN battalion;
  • an Info Activity TF; and
  • attached as required, a reserve force infantry battalion and a reserve force service battalion
2) a sustainment (or combat service support) brigade (primary supplier of NSE elements) with:
  • a deployable brigade headquarters;
  • a transport bn;
  • an MP regiment;
  • a field hospital;
  • a combat service support/special troops bn with a personal services (HR, financial, legal) company, supply company, a POL company, an ammo company; and
  • attached as required, a reserve force infantry battalion and a reserve force service battalion
I'll leave aside the question of what the reserve force should form over and above dedicated augmentee positions within the above organizations, especially the two "divisional" support brigades which would be extensive. In general I'll leave it that I think they could and should form two additional brigade groups within current manpower permissible levels.

🍻
 

Kirkhill

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I would think that the key doctrinal lesson that comes out of the last seven or eight years of conflicts is that we should be prepared for having to face major weapon systems regardless of the place of conflict that we go to.

I'm still a believer in that we should design our brigades as our primary all-arms self-sufficient formation rather than a concept of building blocks to put together task specific battlegroup. I'm still a believer in a light (air mobile capable), medium (primarily LAV Mechanized) and heavy brigade (with tanks) structure but within each brigade structure there should be a similarity of design and capability.

That said, the brigade should be able to spin off a battlegroup-sized slice of itself from its internal resources in order to put a fully balanced task force into the field while the Army should also be able to scale up into a multiple brigade force. To me that means that each brigade should have:

1) three manoeuvre battalions, each with its own organic infantry, direct gun fire, ATGM, and mortar/light rocket and/or attack drone capability. To me that means eliminate straight infantry battalions and armour regiments in exchange for combined arms battalions which, however, should come in two infantry heavy and one direct fire heavy battalion in each brigade;

2) a cavalry battalion with three combined arms recce/UAV, infantry, direct fire/ATGM, mortar/light rocket and or attack drone companies so that a complete combined arms cavalry company can be spun off to augment a battle group.

3) an artillery regiment of three six-gun batteries (M777 for the light brigade; armoured SPs for the others); one fire support coord battery capable of providing one brigade level FSCC, three BG level FSCCs, and nine FOO/JTAC teams; one STA battery capable of providing three STA troops each containing an STACC/ASCC, and three troops with combined CMR and UAV capabilities; one AD Battery with three troops each with radars and SHORAD systems capable of engaging everything from light UAVs to low-level fast air;

4) an engineer regiment with three squadron HQs and an assortment of troops providing a minimum of two of each (preferably three) of mine clearance and EOD, vertical and horizontal construction, combat engineer and water supply;

5) a service battalion with three company HQs and an assortment of platoons providing a minimum of two of each (preferably three) of supply, transport and maintenance platoons. IMHO the service bn should also be the administrative headquarters for the brigade FD ambulance and an MP platoon (each of which is capable of splitting into three slices); and

6) a brigade headquarters with a signals squadron and a military intelligence company with the capability to split off a minimum of two (preferably three) command and control cells with a signals troop and an MI platoon each.

IMHO, the NSE concept needs major revision so that the NSE is responsible solely for communications with national logistics resources and with sufficient resources to transport from air/sea head to warehousing facilities while the deployed service company deals with the NSE and all logistics forward from the NSE. The service company must be self contained and capable of forward deployment away from the NSE as required.

Over and above the resources within the brigades, the Army should also have additional "divisional" resources capabilities (which could and should be equipped for deployment but manned by dedicated regular and reserve or double hatted positions from within the Army;

1) a combat support brigade with:
  • a deployable brigade headquarters;
  • one or two general support artillery regiments with long range rocket capability; medium range radars, medium range UAVs, attack drone capabilities, medium level AD capability; and together capable of forming one div level FSCC, STACC, and ASCC;
  • a general support engineer regiment with a capability to form a div level Engr Sup CC;
  • an EW regiment;
  • a cyber warfare regiment;
  • a divisional signals regiment;
  • an MI regiment;
  • a CBRN battalion;
  • an Info Activity TF; and
  • attached as required, a reserve force infantry battalion and a reserve force service battalion
2) a sustainment (or combat service support) brigade (primary supplier of NSE elements) with:
  • a deployable brigade headquarters;
  • a transport bn;
  • an MP regiment;
  • a field hospital;
  • a combat service support/special troops bn with a personal services (HR, financial, legal) company, supply company, a POL company, an ammo company; and
  • attached as required, a reserve force infantry battalion and a reserve force service battalion
I'll leave aside the question of what the reserve force should form over and above dedicated augmentee positions within the above organizations, especially the two "divisional" support brigades which would be extensive. In general I'll leave it that I think they could and should form two additional brigade groups within current manpower permissible levels.

🍻

Offhand I would say you are well on your way to complying with this observation re the US Army

Infantry BCTs require 4560 PYs to man fully. They eat up 15,910 PYs to man and support.

Stryker BCTs only require an additional 120 direct PYs (4680) to man. On the other hand they require a total of 16,670 PYs to man and support them.

Armored BCTs have the lowest direct manning requirements (4040). Their total manpower requirements fall between the IBCTs and SBCTs at 16,330.

All we need is a force of about 48,000 to field 3 Brigade Groups

Unfortunately

Size
  • 23,000 members serve as full-time soldiers in the Regular Force
  • 19,000 are part-time, volunteer soldiers in the Reserve Force
    • including 5,300 Rangers who serve in sparsely settled northern, coastal and isolated areas of Canada
  • 3,300 civilian employees who support the Army
  • 63 Regular Force and 123 Reserve Force Units in 127 Communities
  • 185 Ranger Patrols in 414 Communities

 
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