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Shoulder patches: identification for the future brigades.

After World War II, the 92nd Infantry Division saw its colors retired and its members move on to other units. Despite its heroic accomplishments in the Po Valley, the 92rid ID joined many other honorable units in the annals of military history. Now, the colors of the 92nd may fly once more, as the Army of this new century takes the field.

Most Soldiers are well aware of the many transformation initiatives. Begun under Chief of Staff of the Army General Eric Shinseki and continued by CSA General Peter Schoomaker, the "leap ahead" in our tools of warfare is being realized. The Land Warrior program is bringing 21st century technology to the Soldier's fingertips. The Future Combat System will revolutionize our equipment and ground transportation in all dimensions and across all five senses. The Warfighter Information Network--Terrestrial will connect every Soldier to enable instant communications and information availability. Move. Shoot. Communicate. That's what it's all about.

Still, these three programs are simply the flagship initiatives of Army Transformation. There are many other projects, each in varying stages from experiments to development, to procurement and fielding. Combined, they will all work together to produce the Future Force.

We know that is easier said than done. Alter a Soldier's been around for awhile, he will know, or know someone who knows, the joy of being in a unit that received a new piece of equipment, or undergoes a "modernization" of one of the units systems, or simply decides to try out a new idea. There's always some degree of pain in making it fit. So it's easy to imagine the training, education, and reorganization that will be required when we begin to see all of these initiatives arriving in our units.

The process of tracking the many impacts a new program will have on an Army unit has been around for awhile. In fact every new program has to document and plan for the impacts before the system can be approved for fielding. This is to ensure the new program will be compatible with everything it will find out in the "real Army." This impact process is known by the acronym DTLOMPF, after the seven domains of impacts to be measured--Doctrine, Training, Leadership, Organization, Materiel, People, and Facilities. Like an integrated system, any change in one of these domains impacts on one or more of the others.

We are seeing this now. Over the last few years we introduced new technologies to make the 4th Infantry Division the Army's digitized division. We took the good ideas that have proven valuable and put them into the mix for Operation Iraqi Freedom. One example is the information exchange capability of the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2). We used the new capabilities and the resulting new tactics to empower our leadership and our people for speed and flexibility.


Now we are beginning to reorganize our units to leverage the new doctrine and personnel capabilities as well as the new materiel. At the direction of CSA Schoomaker, the 3rd ID is reforming its three brigades into five brigades. They will no longer have a division support command (DISCOM). This reorganization is the first attempt at creating what the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) calls the Future Force's Unit of Action (UA). As the Stryker brigades are the interim solution of the Army's transformation, the UA is being organized in a modular fashion whose focus is the core competency of the land force

The future Army will be modular, and the UA is the Army's brigade-size "building block" for task organizing a force to meet any mission. This model for organization of the future force can be considered a modular approach to force structure based on the capabilities requirements necessary to meet a given operation. This approach provides the much needed flexibility for the future Army. Flexibility is particularly necessary to meet the many non-core, often small-scale, or humanitarian contingencies and nation building operations that it is increasingly called upon to perform. Each UA will be autonomous. Able to operate independently on the battlefield, it will still work as part of a team with the other UA units under a Unit of Employment (UE).

Both the UE and the UA can be configured and scaled based on the capabilities needed. A UE is analogous to Joint Task Force headquarters and a Land Force headquarters, depending on the configuration. The smaller, army-centric UE is currently called a UEx, and the larger, multi-service, theater-wide UE is currently designated a UEy. Either of these headquarters units may work for a joint task force or may be organized to work directly for a unified combatant commander.

In the same way, a UA design is not restricted to a direct combat unit. There will be UA designs for Engineer capabilities, communications or security support capabilities, and for sustainment.

The brigade-sized Units of Action and the Land Force Headquarters Units of Employment are being designed to execute the Army's core competencies. Through these two basic building blocks, the Army will construct a versatile force structure to guarantee the American people it will succeed in the two essential services: protection of the United States and its interests, and the waging of land warfare.

Certainly, however, these future units will not be called UA, UEx, and UEy. These terms work well for discussing concepts and avoiding confusion with the current understanding of brigade and division capabilities. They do nothing, however, to evoke the continuity of spirit from its participants. Undoubtedly, the brigades of the future force will be called brigades. The division and corps will disappear in favor of their joint descendants. At these levels, the operational necessities of joint and interagency cooperation will flatten the organizational structure to produce the headquarters element, which is focused on coordination and support of autonomous action entities.


The future brigades will come in many flavors. Each will be tailored and focused toward completion of its part of a jointly integrated operation. In addition to the maneuver, aviation and reconnaissance brigades, there will also be sustainment, medical, distribution, and fires brigades. Each will be essential to the joint land operation, yet their autonomous nature will permit them to join the force as needed based on the specific requirement.

Unit sustainment of combat power is a good example to illustrate the new structure. The organic force structure dedicated to sustain these future brigade maneuver units is limited roughly to the equivalent of a present day forward support company. This minimal logistics footprint will be adequate to provide all combat support and combat service support functions. These Soldiers will be able to leverage the network centric capabilities afforded by the future logistics networks. The global combat service support information network will not only provide the right situational awareness and situational understanding, the information will be packaged to provide the maneuver brigade's logisticians with actionable logistics intelligence as needed to accomplish the mission.

The sustainment UA will be configured to provide for all of the support service to the other units on the battlefield based on their inherent capabilities. There could be different sustainment UA for the different phases of the operation. Yet even this futuristic construct will be insufficient to provide all of the needed support from its own resources. The capability must come from the utilization of the supply chain. The primary role of the logisticians on the battlefield will be to control and manage the many service providers who will be essential for the building and sustainment of combat power.

A strong logistics support relationship between the customer and the service providers, then, is critical to the sustainment of the UA. The logistics support provider will continue to be judged by timely performance. The future provider, however, will be in the form of contract suppliers of goods and services. The effectiveness of this contractor performance will become the primary role of the sustainment UA, and the future Army logistician.

To maintain an adequate logistics infrastructure on the battlefield, and simultaneously maintain a minimal logistics footprint, a shadow force of contractors will provide the logistics functions and services. Contractors are not visible to military force structure managers. The combination of private contractor-based suppliers on the battlefield and the military sustainment UA will make up the supply chain from America's industrial base to the land force customer.


Just as this simple example for the sustainment brigade quickly expands, so to will the capabilities-based future brigades connect together in a mutually supportive manner to operate under the joint UE headquarters. This year we are witnessing the transformation of the 3rd 10 brigades to the UA construct of the future. Next will be the 101st Air Assault brigades. Then we'll see the conversion of the 10th Mountain units, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the 4th 10 brigades. The process will continue until the future Army will have 48 maneuver UA brigades.

Each of these future brigades will be separate, independent organization capable of deploying and operating independently from the support structure of the old division support organizations. In fact, we expect that each of these 48 new brigades will become capable of working with any UE (formerly division) to meet the demands of the mission of the land force. Each future brigade will maintain its relative capabilities. The five brigades from the 101st will maintain its airmobile capabilities, the five from the 10th will still be light mountain brigades, the 173rd will be airborne, and the five brigades from the 4th will possess all of the power of its mechanized heritage.

It becomes easy to imagine an operation that is headed by a JTF UEx formerly the 3rd 10 leading future UA brigades from each of the maneuver divisions discussed. More confusing, the various support U.S. brigades could come from this mix of division pool of capabilities, or even from different organizations altogether. The communications UA may be from the 1st ID, the security UA from the 25th, and the Engineers from the 1st AD.

Consider that there will be at least five different types of support UA brigades. If we believe the future maneuver UA brigades will number 48, and there will be approximately 12 UEx and four UEy organizations, there will certainly be a need for 12 to 15 of each of the five different support brigades. We will soon be faced with the prospect of 120 brigade-sized UA units.


Managing 120 brigades created out of the current 10 division force structure creates an interesting problem. Currently all brigades in the 82nd Airborne Division wear the "All American" Soldier patch. Irrespective of the type of unit, whether Infantry or Artillery, Intelligence or Signal, Ordnance or Quartermaster, each unit is identified by its basic unit of deployment--that is the division. As we move to separate, autonomous, and independent brigades as the unit of deployment, our brigades will lose their division affinity. Strikingly, the supporting brigades of communicators, distributors, engineers, security and fires will more often than not be deployed separate from their parent UE. This new construct threatens to dissipate Soldiers' affinity for their unit.

To rectify the situation, the natural decision is to move the focus from the division to the brigade. The future module properly looks to the brigade for a specific capability. The future brigade as the unit of deployment will become an autonomous entity on the battlefield. Even as they work as part of a UE team, their duties and mission will be temporary. Soldiers will identify with their UA brigade just as today they identify with their division.

We run the risk of the division fading into the role of quaint heraldry the way the regiment has retreated in importance. We still have a sense of affinity with our regiment, and we will probably keep a feeling of pride in our division. Yet, the immediate camaraderie will be tainted as time and operations separate one soldier's experience and perceptions. Unit esprit de corps does bridge generations. Sky Soldiers who served in the jungle do bond with their later counterparts who served in the desert. Still, how many members of the 9th Infantry Regiment (Manchu) share the same bond with a fellow Manchu even after discovering that one served in Korea while the other was in Alaska?

It will streamline unit differentiation well as task organization to identify UA brigades. By naming them and providing them a visible symbol, these brigades will take on their separate identity. We will avoid confusion when two air assault maneuver brigades, a mountain engineer brigade, a mechanized reconnaissance brigade and an air assault security brigade join a mountain UE for an operation. Which brigade becomes designated 1st Brigade? How do we designate the two air assault brigades differently? Does the mountain brigade have special "precedence" because the UE is a mountain UE? Command and control becomes much easier if we name each UA brigade separately with a capabilities related unit identity.


Since the future UA brigade will perform with the autonomy and freedom of action of our current divisions, and the division structure will dissolve in favor of the joint UE force, it makes sense to designate the UA brigades with the names we now use for divisions. By leveraging the division colors and flourishes, the Army will sustain its sense of history and continuity. Also valuable is the comfort derived from leveraging the present sense of affiliation to the currently active units.

There are more than sufficient division units to cover the requirement. Coincidentally, there were 48 American infantry divisions in the European Theater in 1945. That's not counting the armored or artillery divisions in theater, or the 21 Army divisions in the Pacific Theater. The supporting UA brigades would also be designated according to the capability they brought to the battlefield. The 95th Military Police Brigade and the 2nd Signal Brigade could support the 92nd Airborne Infantry Brigade. Special units, sustainment and RSTA units will pick up their current affiliation or be supplied with resurrected unit designations through the U.S. Army's Institute of Heraldry. Even smaller units could be designated to meet particular tasks. After 60 years, the return of the 766th Tank Battalion would surely be welcome.

So the most difficult upgrade to our units may not be a new system or a new tactic for conducting a procedure. To become the future UA brigade, our current brigades will be expected to undergo the stress of change and detachment from their division. The resulting impact will cross all of the DTLOMPF domains to become an autonomous force provider of significant capability. Forty-eight modular maneuver combat brigades and an undefined number of unspecified support brigades will provide the land power of tomorrow.

This organizational change is happening. Our acceptance of the new concepts and the risk associated with this change becomes a valuable goal. One way to gain that acceptance is to reach back to our colorful past to solve an identification problem. By making our units of deployment sport the patches of the distinguished units of our past, we perpetuate the tradition of excellence and ease the tension of progress into the future.

Robert Gosciewski is a Department of the Army civilian who attended the U.S. Army War College while assigned as a logistician for the Southern European Task Force located in Vicenza, Italy. A former paratrooper, Gosciewski served with the 172rid Separate Infantry Brigade as well as the 559th USAAG. He was a distinguished military graduate at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a Master of Science degree from Boston University, and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.

Mr. Gosciewski's two decades of federal service include various technical and managerial positions in Alaska, California, Germany, Italy, and Virginia. Additionally, his experiences in the private sector include international operations and information services. A Certified Professional Logistician, Mr. Gosciewski is particularly interested in the sustainment of combat power for the future force on the battlefield. He became interested in brigade identification while researching the use of separate brigades and specialized units.
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Title Annotation:92nd Infantry Division
Author:Gosciewski, Robert L.
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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