Moving U.S. Forces: Options for Strategic Mobility Section 9 of 12
February 1997

Appendix A

The Army's Goals for
Strategic Mobility

In response to its experience in the Persian Gulf War, the Army has designed its own set of goals for deploying forces rapidly to regional conflicts. That plan assumes that the United States will have fewer forces abroad in the future than it did during the Cold War. The Army's focus is preparing a five-division contingency corps (with one airborne, two heavy, one air assault, and one light division) that would deploy on short notice and be capable of using force immediately upon entering a region.(1)

Under the Army's plan, the contingency corps would face a tight delivery schedule: a ready brigade from a light division would arrive in the region of conflict four days after the start of deployments (C+4), with most of the rest of the division following by C+12.(2) One heavy brigade would be delivered by C+15 under the plan, with two reinforcing divisions (one armored plus either one mechanized or one air assault) arriving by C+30. The full five-division contingency corps plus a corps-support command would be in place by C+75.

That schedule serves as a rough guideline: the precise timing for deliveries would vary depending on the scenario at hand. In the case of a conflict in the Persian Gulf, for example, the Army has set an even tougher timeline--it plans to have an entire heavy division in place within the first two weeks of deployments. Given competing demands for transportation at the start of a conflict, there would not be enough planes to deliver even a heavy brigade that quickly by airlift alone. For that reason, the Army is prepositioning heavy equipment and some support units in the Gulf region.

To give a sense of the scope of the Army's mobility requirements, Table A-1 shows the average number of airlift sorties or shiploads required to transport parts of a notional contingency corps. For example, an airborne division would need 1,101 C-141 and 78 C-17 sorties--or nearly three large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off shiploads--to move its equipment and accompanying supplies.(3) (All units would require some C-17s or C-5s to move their outsize cargo, but the remaining equipment could be flown on C-141s.) Although Table A-1 shows information for a notional corps-support command, it does not reflect all the corps-level units and support units for echelons above corps that would deploy, such as air defense, artillery, and some head-quarters units and additional aviation brigades. Thus, lift requirements for an entire corps would be much larger than the sum of those units shown.

Besides planning new deployment schedules, the Army has also changed aspects of its force structure in response to the Persian Gulf War. For example, during

Table A-1.
Approximate Lift Requirements for Army Contingency Forces
Number of Unit Weight Airlift Sorties Number
Notional Army Unit Personnel (Tons) (C-141/C-17 mix) a of LMSRs b
Airborne Division 13,242 26,699 1,101/78 2.8
Air Assault Division 15,840 35,860 1,412/195 3.9
Armored Division 17,756 110,431 1,761/1,274 6.2
Mechanized Division 17,982 109,116 1,708/1,275 6.2
Light Infantry Division 11,036 17,092 769/41 1.8
Corps-Support Command 22,410 98,717 3,599/500 8.5
SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on Department of Defense, Military Traffic Management Command, Deployment Planning Guide, 94-700-5  
               (Newport News, Va., September 1994). 
NOTE: Based on data from the Army's April 1994 Tables of Organization and Equipment. Actual deployment values will be different for specific units  
           and scenarios. Estimated weights include accompanying supplies, equipment, and ammunition.
a. The number of C-141 and C-17 sorties required to move each unit's equipment based on simulations of aircraft loading. Although the sorties shown  
    would move some of the unit's personnel, additional passenger sorties by Civil Reserve Air Fleet planes would be necessary.
b. The number of large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off ships required to transport each unit, assuming minimum containerization of unit equipment.

Operation Desert Shield, two divisions that were deployed early (the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division) each only had two active brigades; the 197th Separate Infantry Brigade and the Tiger Brigade were sent to round out those divisions. Immediately after U.S. forces returned from the Gulf, those divisions were each assigned a third active brigade. Now, all five divisions of the Army's contingency corps contain only active-duty units.

The Army has made other changes as well. Its Tables of Organization and Equipment (which describe the service's force structure) now include a corps- support group as a new unit in the contingency corps, and the Army is considering adding such a group to other corps as well. The service has installed an engineering brigade made up of three mechanized combat engineering battalions in each heavy division.(4) Formerly, each heavy division included only one engineering battalion, but extra engineering battalions were deployed for Operation Desert Storm to get troops around the extensive system of defensive barriers that Iraq had erected along the Kuwaiti border.

Even with those changes, the average number of personnel in Army combat divisions has grown only modestly in recent years (see Table A-2). Mechanized and armored divisions have grown by the largest amount--4 percent and 5 percent, respectively--since the end of the Gulf War. In the past decade, the Army has actually reduced the average number of personnel in its armored cavalry regiments.

But although the number of personnel in combat divisions has changed little, a recent study, the Total Army Analysis, suggests the service may need as many as 185,000 more support troops to accompany combat forces for two major regional conflicts. If its recommendations are carried out, the Total Army Analysis could result in higher lift requirements, including for units that would deploy early in major conflicts.

Table A-2.
Changes in Number of Personnel in Various Army Combat Units, 1987-1994
Number of Personnel Percentage Change
1987 1990 1994 1987- 1990- 1987-
TOE TOE TOE 1990  1994  1994 
Airborne Division 12,971 13,109 13,242 1 1 2
Air Assault Division 15,795 16,170 15,840 2 (2) 0
Armored Division 16,724 16,921 17,756 1 5 6
Mechanized Division 17,073 17,235 17,982 1 4 5
Light Infantry Division 10,854 10,871 11,036 0 2 2
Armored Cavalry Regiment 6,167 4,663 4,627 (24) (1) (25)
SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on data from the Military Traffic Management Command.
NOTE: TOE = Tables of Organization and Equipment.

As the Army has modernized its equipment and reorganized its forces, combat divisions have grown significantly heavier--an average of more than 4 percent heavier a year for most types of units. They also take up more floor space, but that increase (an average of more than 2 percent a year) is not as substantial as their growth in weight. Generally speaking, the additional weight increases mobility requirements for transporting units abroad--particularly those units that rely on airlift for deployment. Since the Army accounts for the majority of equipment and supplies that would be airlifted to a major regional contingency, the growing weight of its units has strong implications for overall airlift needs.

Under the Army's 1994 Tables of Organization and Equipment (the most recent version), a notional mechanized division weighs 49 percent more than it did under 1987 guidelines (see Figure A-1). The other military services have grown heavier as well, but less unclassified information is available about the effects of modernization and reorganization on the weight of Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps units.

Figure A-1.
Changes in Weight of Various Army Combat Units, 1987-1994

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office based on data from the Military Traffic Management Command.

NOTES: The weight of each unit includes accompanying supplies, equipment, and ammunition.

TOE = Tables of Organization and Equipment; ACR = armored cavalry regiment.

1. Maj. Gen. Fred Elam and Lt. Col. Mark Henderson, "The Army's Strategic Mobility Plan," Army Logistician (May/June 1992), pp. 2-6.

2. The military refers to the day that deployments begin as C-day, with subsequent days denoted as C+1, C+2, and so on.

3. The amount of time required to conduct airlift sorties or steam sealift ships will differ depending on the distance involved. For one point of reference, during the Persian Gulf War daily airlift sorties reached a peak of 121 on January 20, 1991. That number includes C-5, C-141, and KC-10 aircraft along with Stage II of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet.

4. Lt. Col. F. Marion Cain III, "Building Desert Storm Force Structure," Military Review (July 1993), p. 30.

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