Army to add more infantry battalions in 2013

Despite the threat of additional spending cuts, Army leaders are not backing away from a plan to add more firepower to its brigade combat teams.

Later this year, the Army intends to start adding a third maneuver battalion and engineer support to its BCTs under the plan to reorganize 32 active BCTs by 2017, said Gen. Robert Cone, the head of Army Training and Doctrine Command, at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium held here.

via DoD Buzz | Army to add more infantry battalions in 2013.

I think the headline is a bit misleading. The total number of maneuver battalions (infantry, mech infantry, Stryker, Armor, Cav) will decline. But each remaining Brigade Combat Team will eventually pick up a third maneuver battalion.

Aside from the short lived  Pentomic Army of the 1950s, the regiment/brigade level combat unit has had three maneuver battalions from 1941 to early in the 21st Century. While BCTs have tended to use their recon/cav squadron as a third maneuver battalion, that is not its intended role, and it is quite ill suited for it.

There is little question that the active Army will shrink. But by adding a third maneuver battalion to those BCTs that will remain, the core capability of the Army will not diminish as badly as the raw numbers of BCTs would indicate.

Of course, if manpower and Operations and Maintenance funding is cut as badly as the worst case scenario tells us my happen, only a handful of the BCTs remaining will be manned at anything approaching full strength, or trained at anything like an acceptable level of readiness.

When the “peace dividend” drawdown of the Clinton years came to pass, the guidance from senior Army leadership was “no more Task Force Smiths” referring to the bloody defeat of a poorly trained and equipped battalion dispatched to Korea in 1950.  The Army might shrink, but the remaining units would be fully trained and, if not fully manned, at least to a level that allowed realistic training.

That will likely not be the case this time. Units will become hollow shells of their former selves, and training will be increasingly hampered, to the point where units are incapable of performing their wartime taskings.

This is a strategic risk. If you have 18-24 months to repair the worst of the damage, that’s fine. If you need competent warfighting capability on day one, well, you’re out of luck.

Guess we’re gonna roll the dice.





3 thoughts on “Army to add more infantry battalions in 2013”

  1. This should be interesting. I read the same post as you from “DoD Buzz” and one of the commenters made a good point. He suggested changes in the configuration of where the troops were deployed. The people are already in the Military and they would simply be “repurposed”. This is what our “Leadership” would have us believe. In my view, this is a bad case of “smoke and mirrors”. At my age, I’m tired of people trying to blow smoke up my ass. That old girl has been shut down for many years, yet, they still try!

  2. No smoke and mirrors involved. They are cutting brigades, and moving some of the battalions from those brigades into brigades that are remaining. Additionally, they will be taking one of the artillery batteries from the closing FA BN and putting it in the remaining FA battalions, changing them from 2 batteries of 8 guns each to three batteries of 6 guns each. Really the FDC is the key thing. Will also be “growing” another engineer company in the BSTB with a goal of ultimately forming an ENG BN.

  3. Looks like the Army still doesn’t know what it wants from it’s reconnaissance/surveillance elements….back to armored cavalry squadron.

    Seems like Humvee (or now MRAP/M-ATV) + M3A3 Bradley CFV version doesn’t have enough dismounts, but the M-ATV pure version isn’t survivable enough.

    I think the idea of getting the most combat power out of fewer brigades is a good idea – if they say we can only have X number of brigades, then we should turn them into true combat brigades (3 maneuver battalions, 1 reconnaissance battalion, 1 engineer battalion (ABCTs), 1 support battalion, 1 special troops battalion).

    “Leaders are also considering adding armored reconnaissance back into heavy BCTs (HBCTs) and trying to determine what type of reconnaissance and surveillance unit would be best suited for higher-level commands such as division and corps.”

    That pretty much says it all.

    Did the BfSB really provide any unique capabilities that a combat brigade didn’t? I mean, I guess with two MI Companies you have more “intelligence”, but I’m confused as to how the BfSB interfaces with line brigades. Does it handle higher-up intelligence and pass it down to line battalions? From what I understand, this is essentially a Corps-level intelligence unit with a recon troop added on.

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