Army to beef up divisions

by Sgt. 1st Class Connie E. Dickey

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 8, 1999) - At least 8,000 soldiers more than usual will move to divisions and armored cavalry regiments over the next year as they begin receiving pinpoint orders from the U.S. Army Personnel Command this summer.

About 6,000 of those soldiers will move from garrison positions to divisions and cavalry regiments as soldiers stationed with Table of Distribution and Allowance units come down on rotation orders, said Maj. Gen. Timothy Maude, assistant deputy chief of staff for personnel.

This redistribution of soldiers is part of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki's vision of a lighter, more deployable force manned at 100 percent. While the long-term plan will beef up manning across the entire force, the initial focus, Maude said, will be on units key to the Army's readiness for warfighting: the divisions and armored cavalry regiments.

Shinseki's plan on reaching that goal was sent out in a message to commanders Armywide Nov. 8. In the message, Shinseki outlines how the Army will reach 100 percent manning strength in divisions and cavalry regiments in enlisted grade and skill by the second quarter of fiscal year 01 and throughout the force by fiscal year 03.

"During this transformation, we will carefully assess the impact of manning to 100 percent by grade and skill," Shinseki said in the message. "All units will continue to be targeted to receive 100 percent of their key positions (Fill Priority 1). We will establish manning floors for all units. Grade and skill combinations that are Army-wide shortages will be fair-shared across all organizations."

Shinseki said "All units play a role in Army readiness. We must ensure capability across the force."

Maude recently talked about the three parts of the plan: recruiting, synchronizing force structure to Congressionally-mandated end strength and redistribution of soldiers.

The last part of the plan will have an immediate affect on soldiers. Beginning this summer, Maude said soldiers will be sent to divisions and armored cavalry regiments. This rotation to Table of Equipment units should only affect soldiers who are due for a permanent change-of-station move, Maude said.

About 160,000 soldiers rotate a year to new assignments, he said. This summer, he said an additional 8,000 to 10,000 are expected to change units as a result of the new manning priorities. However, he said the Army will attempt to handle these moves within installations to the maximum extent possible.

"What we are going to do is to make positions within the divisions and armored cavalry regiments a priority fill," Maude said.

He explained, for example, a supply sergeant who may have expected to go to a corps support unit will be going to a division support unit instead. He said soldiers who are already on an installation that is home to a division may be finding themselves going across post to fill positions within the division instead of moving elsewhere.

To ensure the divisions and cavalry regiments have priority fill, Maude said PERSCOM will be cutting pinpoint assignment orders in February and March to soldiers selected for movement this summer. By issuing the pinpoint orders, installations will not be able to change soldiers' orders when they sign in at their new duty installation, Maude said.

He said currently divisions are at about 95 percent grade and skill on the enlisted side. Comparably, TDA units, or garrison positions, are at 102 percent. "We think we will be able to fill the divisions and cavalry regiments with soldiers during normal, annual movements," he said.

Through earlier reviews the Army identified about 15,000 soldiers in TDA units in positions not considered inherently governmental. Maude said this means these positions don't necessarily have to be filled by a soldier.

"We are going to be pulling those soldiers and putting them in warfighting positions so we can better utilize our resources and succeed in the missions we have been given," Maude said.

In that regard, Maude said headquarters' staffs will have a size-limit imposed on them and commanders will be forced to employ the best possible business practices available. Presently commanders are providing feedback on the impact losing soldiers will have on their mission.

The Army will also be conducting two force structure reviews during FY00. "A Force Feasibility Review study should be finished by mid-November, that looks as specific functions across the Army," said Col. Mark Gerner of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. On the heels of that review, a Functional Area Assessment of specific organizations will be conducted and be finished by late February, he said.

These assessments, Gerner said, will affect the entire Army, because they will show the relation of TDA versus TOE units in specialties such as intelligence, medical, training, etc., and where the TDA units can be reorganized. Also, the proponent agency for each branch of the Army will be able to provide input to the requirements and position priorities, he said.

"When we get all this information to the Chief (Shinseki), then he is going to be able to validate our end strength and to determine what we need to do the missions we've been assigned to do," Maude said.

After the divisions and cavalry regiments are manned to 100 percent, Maude said priority will shift to other early-deploying units above division level. He said those units that deploy in the first 30-35 days to support multiple-theater war scenarios should also have their enlisted positions filled by grade and skill at 100 percent in fiscal year 01.

Maude said the remaining TOE units should be at 100 percent in authorized grade and skill by fiscal year 02 and TDA units should be at 100 percent in authorized grade and skill by fiscal year 03.

Maude said the distribution plan will only affect enlisted soldiers for the time being, and that officer distribution will stay the same for now. "We are going to fix the enlisted positions first, then move on to the officer positions," Maude said.

The recruiting part of the plan has several initiatives the Army plans to either begin or to continue with, Maude said. "The central theme is that it (recruiting) will remain a challenge. But we have put together an eight-part program that we think will make us successful in meeting our 80,000 recruiting goal for next year," Maude said.

The eight-part recruiting package is: continue with automation, continue the hometown recruiter program, increase the use of corporal recruiters, improve selection criteria and training of recruiters, continue recruiting repositioning plan, begin partnership with industry and implement the College First and GED+ programs, approved by the Secretary of Defense.