Research Brief

In part based on a recommendation by the U.S. Commission on Roles and Missions, in 1996 the Army began planning for an integrated division composed of active and reserve component units. Such divisions could provide more flexible forces in wartime and an improved environment for reserve training in peacetime. The active component would supply the headquarters, and the combat forces would largely come from National Guard enhanced separate brigades. Since most of the soldiers would come from the same National Guard brigades that RAND's Arroyo Center had analyzed in earlier research, the Army asked RAND to evaluate the postmobilization process for the new integrated division. The goal was to tell the Army what additional time and resources—i.e., beyond what has been provided to train the enhanced brigades—are needed to prepare the integrated division for combat.

Table 1. Division and Major Subordinate Command Postmobilization Training Events

Events Time Required (days)
Preparatory
Individual and section training 10
Command post and order drills 10
Map/command post exercises without brigade combat teams 10
Primary
BCTP seminar 8
BCTP ramp-up training 20
Warfighter exercise 15 + 5-day division order prep
Division field training exercise/live fire interdiction/counterfire exercise (-) 8 (including optional 3-day prep)

Postmobilization Strategies

To analyze the process, Arroyo Center researchers first identified the additional tasks that must be trained at a division level. They based their requirements for division-level training on those used by active divisions and their major subordinate commands and on the experience of the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) at Fort Leavenworth. Table 1 lists the primary tasks identified for this process. These are divided into two groups, preparatory and primary. Preparatory events develop proficiency and sustain skills between primary events. Primary events train divisional warfighting skills and involve all the division's major command and control elements. The analysts devised a sequence of these events, many of which are executed in parallel with brigade training, aimed at preparing the full division as quickly as possible.

Given these tasks, the researchers then posited three postmobilization strategies to perform them, using different configurations of sites:

  • Train three brigades in parallel at three sites.
  • Train all brigade and battalion combat teams at one site, Fort Irwin.
  • Train two divisions at two separate sites.

The strategies were developed with the resources already available to train the enhanced separate brigades in mind and with the goal of minimizing any additional resources needed to train the divisions. The analysis also aimed to provide strategies that vary in time, risk, and flexibility.

Table 2. Minimum Time to Prepare a Trained Division (days after mobilization)

Strategy First Division Ready by Day Second Division Ready by Day
Three brigades in parallel 132 217
All brigades at Fort Irwin 185 303
Two division sites 239 239

The first strategy sends the division, the major subordinate commands, and one brigade to Fort Irwin, the site of the Army's National Training Center. The other two brigades go to other major training sites (Fort Hood and the Yakima Training Area). The second strategy also has the division, major subordinate commands, and one brigade report to Fort Irwin. However, the other two brigades first go to smaller training sites for company-level training and then report in staggered sequence to Fort Irwin, which can accommodate only one brigade combat team at a time for maneuver and live-fire training. The third strategy employs two division training sites coupled with smaller sites for preliminary training. Table 2 shows the minimum time in days required for each strategy to prepare the first and second divisions.

Assessment

Any of the strategies will produce a capable division; thus no strategy has a dominant advantage. Rather, each has different risks and tradeoffs. Arroyo researchers used three criteria to highlight the tradeoffs: force generation, training quality, and resources.

Force Generation

Training three brigades in parallel provides a division in the shortest time—about 4.5 months—but carries the greatest risk. Active units must deploy from the proposed training sites, and they may not have departed by the time the reserve units arrive. Also, this strategy is the least flexible. If one brigade has substantially lower readiness than the other two, it is not possible to delay it in the mobilization queue to address the problems without affecting the total time required to prepare the division.

The second strategy—all brigades passing through Fort Irwin—takes nearly two months longer but poses less risk. This was the strategy favored by senior trainers that the Arroyo Center interviewed during the evaluation phase of the study. All training above company level takes place at one site, which houses the bulk of the brigade trainers during peacetime. It thus makes the best use of trainers and opposing force, and it provides time together for all division elements, thereby enhancing cohesion and team building. Only one brigade must be ready for training shortly after M-day; this leaves time to deal with any readiness problems in the other two brigades.

The third strategy—two division sites—takes longer to produce the first division but delivers the second one almost two months sooner than the second strategy. Its risks parallel those of the first strategy. However, it has an added advantage: It leaves a residual training capability, which could be used to prepare another enhanced separate brigade or an armored cavalry regiment, should the wartime situation demand more forces.

Training Quality

The second strategy, sending all units through Fort Irwin, offers the best quality. Units would benefit from the unmatched facilities of the National Training Center (NTC), including the instrumented battlefield and live-fire ranges. This strategy takes the greatest advantage of the experience of NTC's trainers and professional opposing force. The other two strategies require the NTC operations group to divide into as many as three groups, thus diluting their experience. Those strategies also provide more time for the divisional elements to work together. However, both also create long periods of inactivity for some elements because the brigades mobilize sequentially, requiring the early brigades to wait for the later ones to complete training.

Resource Requirements

It takes somewhat more resources to prepare divisions than it does to prepare brigades: about 300–400 more active component trainers, one or two teams from TRADOC's Battle Command Training Program, and simulations and support personnel from the USAR's Divisions (Exercise). In our judgment, the Army could overcome these constraints, but it would need to take care that the changes did not impede its ability to mobilize and prepare other early-deploying units.

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