by Gerry J. Gilmore
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 9, 1998) - Comparing the Army's heavy division of the future with today's version might be like choosing to clean clothes using a high-tech automatic washer or slapping them on rocks in a stream.
Both old and new warfighting forces and washing methods will do their respective jobs. But, by leveraging technology like the modern washer, the new heavy division is likewise designed to perform its mission quicker, better and with less mess in a changing world.
The Army's architect of the future force, Gen. William W. Hartzog, commander of Training and Doctrine Command, opened a window overlooking tomorrow's force structure for assembled journalists during a June 9 press conference at the Pentagon.
"We're in the midst of a 'bow-wave' of technological change and we have only two options. Either we probe [change] and determine what is useful in the business we are tasked to do for our country ... or we avoid it and say it is not relevant.... To avoid [change] and just really saying technology is not relevant to the business of defending our nation was something we couldn't abide," Hartzog said.
The Army's first new heavy division for the next century, the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, is due to come fully on line in the year 2000, Hartzog said. Fielding about 15,719 soldiers upon deployment, including around 417 reservists and National Guardsmen, the new division has some 3,000 less soldiers than the present Army of Excellence heavy division.
Smaller and more maneuverable, the Army XXI division is designed to operate in the year 2010 timeframe, Hartzog said. It uses digital communications and enhanced intelligence-gathering and weaponry, including upgraded Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Apache Longbow and Comanche helicopters to quickly locate and neutralize enemy forces.
"We're doing this in a time of dwindling, declining resources," Hartzog said. "It has not been easy. It has required us to focus on our assets and resources for future experimentation in a way we've never done before."
The new division is designed to operate in a variety of scenarios, from "hot" full-scale conflicts with near-peer adversaries, to "cooler" humanitarian or peacekeeping operations [other than war], Hartzog said. Down the road, Army XXI will evolve into a still more modernized force, "Army After Next," for the 2025 timeframe.
"We're looking out into the future [and] did it in two levels. We looked first to about 2010; that's about as far as industry could see along with us..." Hartzog said. "We've [also] looked out [to] the 2025 timeframe, primarily not to build a model today, but to direct our research and development."
The Information Age and a changing geo-political climate have caused the Army to reexamine how it structures its forces, Hartzog said. Since about 1994, he said, Army planners have designed and experimented with up to 11 variations of new divisional structure to replace the Army of Excellence division that has been in place since 1984.
"We found ourselves at the end of the Cold War with a largely very heavy Army [division], not as strategically relevant to all of the tasks of the early 1990s that were emerging, and certainly not anticipated to be strategically relevant to the early 21st century," Hartzog said. "About 2010, we see a world that is much more fragmented, which requires [a force with] different capabilities, more flexibility, and most of all requires litheness and more lethality.
"[This future world] requires us to be able to work in an Information Age, an age in which computers and [micro] chips move information... and we were still in an analog environment using flat maps.... Little sticky [flags] and writing backward on the ubiquitous glass wall," he said.