New Army brigades would rapidly train soldiers in emergency

Since the Army announced it is drawing down its total force to just under one million troops by 2018, it has taken a lot of criticism about what will happen if the Army needs to ramp up its numbers in an emergency.

The Army now has an answer to that problem. The service is creating specialized train, advise and assist brigades that can rapidly train units of new soldiers in a time of war.

The brigades would “considerably shorten the length of time it would take to create units of brigades and battalions,” Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley said during a June 23 speech.

The brigades would have a similar makeup to infantry brigades with the chains of command, except there would be no privates in the brigade.

Most of the time the brigades would be used to train U.S. partner troops, much like the U.S. does in Afghanistan and Iraq now. But, in an emergency scenario they would serve a secondary function of training U.S. recruits.

“If there was a national emergency I assume people would volunteer and we could take soldiers and put them through basic training and [Advanced Individual Training] so four or five months’ worth of training and then marry those soldiers up to those [brigades] and run them through collective training to get them ready as a unit,” Milley said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Milley said the Army will not need any more people to build the brigades, and policy on them will be in the upcoming program objective memorandums.

The brigades will first be piloted and design tested, Milley said.

“Well take it slow at first, not rush to failure and make sure we do it right,” Milley said.

Milley envisions the first brigade being operational about two years from now and wants one brigade for each of the five geographic combatant commands.

“We did this before,” Milley said. “They were called cohort batallions, this was back in the [19]80s. … The whole idea was cohesion. The idea was if the unit chain of command trains together for three or four months they are very cohesive. Then all of the soldiers go through basic training together, they go through Advanced Individual Training together at Fort Benning, then they will be cohesive and then when you marry them to the chains of command, the amount of time it will take to build a cohesive unit will be shortened.”

Force readiness is not the only area where Milley is looking toward the future. Milley said he has asked his staff intelligence agencies to describe what the world looks like from 2025 to 2050.

“That’s probably the area, realistically, where I could have some influence on as chief of staff,” Milley said.

He concluded the world is on the cusp of a fundamental change in the character of ground warfare. The change will be so drastic that it will parallel the introduction of the musket or machine gun.

“Exactly what that is going to look like I don’t know. I just know that we are there. We are on the leading edge of it. We’ve got a few years to figure it out. Probably less than ten. I think that by 2025 you are going to see armies, not only the American Army, but armies around the world fundamentally and substantively different than they are today,” Milley said.

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