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Brigade-sized units, which are normally commanded by Colonels but may, as in the case of separate brigades, be commanded by Brigadier Generals, control two or more battalions. Their capabilities for self-support and independent action vary considerably with the type of brigade. Maneuver brigades are the major combat units of all types of divisions. They can also be organized as separate units.

While separate brigades have a fixed organization, division commanders establish the organization of their brigades and change their organizations as frequently as necessary for mission accomplishment. The only permanent unit assigned to a brigade is its headquarters and headquarters company (HHC). They can employ any combination of maneuver battalions and they are normally supported by field artillery battalions, aviation units, and by smaller combat, combat support, and combat service support units. Brigades combine the efforts of their battalions and companies to fight engagements and to perform major tactical tasks in division battles. Their chief tactical responsibility is synchronizing the plans and actions of their subordinate units to accomplish a single task for the division or corps.

The primary mission of the brigade is to deploy on short notice and destroy, capture, or repel enemy forces, using maneuver and shock effect. Armored and mechanized brigades are organized to fight successful engagements in conventional and various operations other than war (OOTW) activities. Brigades also conduct various OOTW activities, independently or as part of a joint or multinational headquarters in peacetime and conflict environments. They are subordinate commands of a division and corps and perform major tactical operations as part of a division or corps operation.

Other combat, combat support, and combat service support brigades are organized to control non-divisional units for corps and larger units. Engineer, air defense artillery, signal, aviation, military police, and transportation brigades are typical of such units. They may also be the building blocks of large unit support such as corps support commands and of combat support commands such as engineer commands. Divisions are supported by an organic brigade-sized support command of mixed combat service support battalions and companies.

Separate Brigades

Separate brigades of infantry, armor, field artillery, air defense artillery, and engineer can be used to reinforce corps or divisions and can be shifted from unit to unit to tailor forces for combat. Separate brigades are usually employed as integral units when attached to corps or divisions. The separate brigade sometimes conducts independent operations, attaches to a division, or is placed under the control of a higher command such as a corps. It is organized to provide its own support. The separate brigade has maneuver battalions. They are tank, mechanized infantry, infantry battalions, and armored cavalry squadrons. Such units as the engineer company and the artillery battalion provide combat support to these combat units. The Separate Brigade can control up to five maneuver battalions. Additionally, combat support and combat service support units may be attached to the brigade as required by the Brigade's mission, operating circumstances, and the commander's intent.

The vast array of enemy forces and range of potential areas of conflict necessitate a tactical element (separate brigade or regiment) smaller than a division with its own support assets, capable of strategic and tactical deployments. The separate brigade allows the national command authority latitude in its force projection options. It also affords commanders of forward deployed forces a flexible asset which can be used in numerous roles and missions, such as reconnaissance, screening, and covering force operations. The separate brigade is a flexible unique fighting organization that provides its own DS. The separate brigades included in this manual are the heavy separate brigade and the separate infantry brigade/theater defense brigade. The separate brigade's main focus is to defeat the enemy. It uses effective maneuver, firepower, protection, and sound leadership through close combat and offensive action. It supports offensive, defensive, or retrograde operations as an independent force or part of a larger force. It may be attached to a division (less support) to concentrate combat power. It may also be placed under the control of a higher command such as a corps. It conducts limited independent operations under the direction of a joint task force or theater commander. It functions as a corps reserve force or as a corps rear protection force. It also functions as a security force on the flanks or in front of the corps.

Aviation Brigade. Common to all heavy and light active divisions throughout the Army, the aviation brigade is the principle aviation organization. The aviation brigade is considered a maneuver brigade, normally designated the 4th brigade in most divisions. It is designed to fight, command, and resource aviation forces. The typical brigade consists of 131 aircraft and has a headquarters and headquarters company (HHC), a cavalry squadron (w/air and ground assets), a command aviation company (CAC), an assault helicopter company (AHC) and one or two attack helicopter battalions (ATKHB). Forward deployed brigades have two Attack Helicopter Battalions. The HHC contains a full staff complement for executing all staff functions to include issuance of plans and orders. The aviation brigade HQs receives priority of aircraft support from the CAC. The brigade's intermediate maintenance falls under the DISCOM.

In the Light Divisions, brigade organizational structure includes an HHC, a reconnaissance squadron, two Assault Helicopter Companies and one ATKHB.

Aviation Brigade-Air Assault Division. A significantly heartier organization in aircraft and organizational structure with four Attack Helicopter Battalions, two AHBs (UH-60), a medium lift aviation battalion (CH-47) with two 16 ship companies, a command aviation battalion, an air reconnaissance squadron, a medical evacuation battalion and an aviation maintenance battalion. Total aircraft is 327: 15 OH, 52 SCT, 84 AH, 32 UH-1, 102 UH-60, 32 CH-47. The 101st Airborne-Air Assault division is the only unit with this organization.

Additional Corps level aviation organizational structures are activated during war with operational assets to include the Corps aviation brigade with two attack helicopter regiments and an aviation group.

In May 1995, the Commission on Roles and Missions recommended that the Army reorganize lower priority Reserve Component forces to fill force shortfalls in higher priority areas. In keeping with this recommendation, the Army conducted Total Army Analysis 003 in late 1995 to determine potential shortfalls in personnel required to implement the National Military Strategy. As a result, the Army determined that nearly 124,800 additional Combat Support and Combat Service Support personnel were required. Following this conclusion, the ARNG commissioned the Army National Guard Division Redesign Study to examine ways it could address this shortfall. As a result of the study, the Guard will convert a number of units from Combat to Combat Support and Combat Service Support formations in the coming years. Among other suggestions, the study recommended the conversion of up to 12 ARNG combat brigades and their associated divisional slice elements to CS/CSS units during FY99-2012.

The the Army National Guard Division Redesign Study recommended the establishment of two AC/NG Integrated Divisions, each consisting of an active Army headquarters and three Army National Guard enhanced Separate Brigades. An Active Component Division Commander would become responsible for the combat readiness of the three brigades and the other elements necessary to create a full division capable of deploying in wartime. The 30th Mechanized Infantry Brigade (North Carolina), the 218th Mechanized Infantry Brigade (South Carolina), and the 48th Mechanized Infantry Brigade (Georgia) will make up a division headquartered at Fort Riley, Kansas. The other Integrated Division, to be headquartered at Fort Carson, Colorado, will be composed of the 39th Infantry Brigade (Arkansas), the 45th Infantry Brigade (Oklahoma), and the 41st Infantry Brigade (Oregon). The activation date for the two divisions was 01 October 1999.

Strike Force / Medium Weight Brigade / Initial Brigade

The high frequency of joint contingency operations in the 1990’s -- a frequency directly linked to the rise in global instability and uncertainty in the post-Cold War world and complicated by the reduction in the number of US forward presence forces -- exposed an area of risk with respect to the Army’s ability to respond rapidly to crisis. Accordingly, the 1999 Army Strategic Planning Guidance (ASPG) establishes and explicit requirement for the Army of the 21st Century to become more strategically responsive. To meet these requirements the Army began the development of the STRIKE FORCE.

Several concrete challenges must be overcome to satisfy this requirement. The Army organization and force structure is not optimized for full spectrum strategic responsiveness. Frequent contingency responses also place a heavy burden on the operational tempo (OPTEMPO) on Army forces. The Army’s contingency experience has also established a continuing requirement for rapid, effective team-building of specifically tailored Army task forces comprised of units drawn from the Army’s mix of AC/RC, SOF/conventional, and mechanized/light forces.

The STRIKE FORCE mission would be to deploy globally with a mission tailored force package of combat, combat support, and combat service support forces to conduct strategically responsive operations in support of joint contingencies. Capable of commitment across the full spectrum of conflict, the STRIKE FORCE is optimized to conduct small-scale contingency operations and to deter or contain crises, employing the full range of Army, joint, multinational, and interagency capabilities. The STRIKE FORCE may also support offensive or defensive decisive operations and conduct humanitarian assistance. In addition, the STRIKE FORCE Headquarters serves as a vehicle for developing the future force.

In October 1999 Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki annunced that the Army will develop two technology-enhanced, fast-deployable and lethal brigades at Fort Lewis WA using knowledge gained by Force XXI experiments and off-the-shelf technology available from the private sector. Additionally, heavy tracked vehicles like armored personnel carriers and tanks would be replaced out by lighter, faster, more fuel-efficient wheeled vehicles. He said the Army will develop the capability to put brigade combat teams anywhere in the world within 96 hours after liftoff, a division on the ground in 120 hours, and five divisions within 30 days. The new Initial Brigades build on the Strike Force concept, which focused on the the ability to deploy, almost immediately, a lethal modular force, tailored to operational requirements. The first Strike Force was to be created within the year at Fort Polk LA, and was expected to be operational by 2003.

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