The number of active-duty Army soldiers is, and has been, shrinking to record low levels. During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Army had about 570,000 active-duty members. As of last July, it has about 474,000. This is a reduction of about 100,000, and it may go lower depending on what the Congress does with its proposed authorization of $602 billion for the next fiscal year beginning October 1st.
One way the Pentagon believes it can shore up this reduction of strength is by utilizing the US Army Reserve and National Guard forces with changes to their training regime. This new training idea is focused on teaching Guard and Reserve troops how to better fight overseas. One of the first to get this new level of training is the Georgia National Guard 48th Infantry Brigade.
This brigade has about 4200 troops in it, and they will be the first to test the new idea of pairing Army Reserve and National Guard units with commanders who are on active duty to take charge of their combat training. As of September 2016, there were 13 AR and NG units on the list to undergo this type of training.
In early September of this year, the 48th removed their shoulder insignia of the lightning bolt and replaced it with the 3rd Infantry Division insignia. The 48th Brigade’s commander, Col. Reginald Neal, said during the ceremony at Fort Stewart, GA: “We’re still a National Guard unit, but we’re hopefully maintaining a high level of training.”
The 48th and the 3rd are not strangers. In 2005, they deployed together to Iraq for a year-long tour. They also spent a year together in 2009 in Afghanistan. These were not fun-in-the-sun tours; 34 members of the 48th were killed during the two deployments.
For stateside training, the one weekend a month schedule is not expected to change, or, if it does, not change by much. For its part, the US Army is planning to blend nine more National Guards units with active-duty companies. Those units already on the list for the transition are located in Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. Texas will have a total of four units participating. In addition, two Army Reserve units, one based in Hawaii and one in North Carolina, will also join up with active-duty companies.
As of September 2106, the program is slated to be a 3-year test, but that time period may be extended if needed. The pilot test ends in 2019, and, if successful, more units are likely to be added. It should be noted that all NG units that are in the program will continue to provide assistance to their individual states when called upon to do so.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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