The Army, probably more than the other services, is currently lurching toward some serious changes in how it does business, especially if Congress and the White House remain unable to reach some sort of “grand bargain” that would reverse sequestration.
But it’s not all bad news—unless you’re the Marine Corps as we’ll see in a second—and two seemingly small recent events really highlight some of the biggest postwar operational changes the service is going through.
Army officials have been talking about the need to increase operations with the Navy as the White House and Pentagon shift their gaze to the Asia Pacific region, and they took a big step in that direction in mid-July when over 25 Army helicopter pilots qualified landing on Navy decks, touching down with UH-60 Black Hawks, OH-58 Kiowa Warriors, and CH-47 Chinooks aboard the USS Chafee, USS Hopper, USS Guadalupe, and the USS Tarawa off the Hawaiian coast.
The exercise involved pilots from 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment; and the 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment.
“We bring a capability that has mostly been land based in nature,” Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joseph Roland told an Army public affairs official before launching into a line that should make the Marine Corps squirm: “Being protectors of the Pacific, it is important we are capable of working in an over-water environment.”
Calling the Army the “protectors of the Pacific” might not be the best choice of words at a time where Marines are already bristling at the Army’s boasts about their ability to conduct advise and assist and humanitarian missions in an area that the Corps has traditionally held sway.
While the service goes about building its capabilities in the Pacific however, it’s also removing some long-time assets from Europe, which for over 60 years has been the domain of American heavy armor.
With the announced inactivation of the Germany-based 170th and 172nd Heavy Brigade Combat Teams, logicians are busily packing up and shipping Bradley’s and Abrams tanks back home to the States.
The 21st Theater Sustainment Command is currently finishing up preparations for shipping the final 88 M2A2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles back stateside.
Once those vehicles are on a ship, “the remaining Bradleys and Abrams Main Battle Tanks in Germany will be available to the European Rotational Force and the NATO Response Force,” an Aug. 7 story on the Army’s Web site said. The 1st BCT, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas is assigned to fill both missions.
Once the vehicles come back home they’ll be upgraded and refitted before being reassigned to a unit in the United States.
And with that, the era of American heavy armor standing guard in Europe will come to an end, while Army choppers start hopping between ships in the Pacific…