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The Broken Machine: The US Army Division in the Age of Brigade Modularity

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2016,25 May 2017

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Would the modern US Army division succeed in a large-scale conventional engagement decisive action The US Army division in World War II is a benchmark for comparison since it was a highly successful combat organization used against the last peer competitors that the United States faced in a major war. The division structure of World War II is particularly appropriate for comparison because the Army in the interwar period undertook a focused effort to understand the requirements of large-scale modern combat and then designed the division to fulfil these requirements. In the spirit of Taylorism, the Army designed the division to be a machineengineered for a purpose, mass-produced, with interchangeable components that could be employed by corps and army commanders against the enemy. When evaluating the modern division through the criteria of doctrine, organization, and training, form no longer follows function. The transition to modularity in the early 2000s shifted the primary element of combat power at the tactical level from the division to the brigade combat team, leaving the role of the division ambiguous. The division holds the position once held by the corps, but doctrine continues to ask the division to act in its pre-modularity role without providing an answer for how this is possible, given inadequate force structure. The confusion over the role and the structure of the division is exacerbated by a gap in training for division staff and leaders. While the Army once depended on the Command and General Staff College to train officers to work on division staffs, the curriculum has shifted to preparing officers to work at BCT-level. The Mission Command Training Program, the only remaining training program for division staffs, is then forced to provide training and assistance in basic staff organization and administration, rather than provide a capstone training event in division warfighting against a thinking enemy as intended.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations

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