The Strategic Utility of the United States Army Light Infantry.
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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As Chief of Staff of the Army in 1981, General Meyer believed that there was an important role for light infantry on the modern battlefield. British combat operations in the Falkland Islands and the American experience during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada highlighted the strategic utility and need of rapidly deployable light infantry. General Wickham replacing General Meyer believed that the solution to the Armys manning and strategic shortfalls was the immediate fielding of a 10,000-soldier light infantry division LID. Secretary of the Army, John O. Marsh Jr., agreed. He believed the Armys inability to deploy rapidly hurt its appeals for force structure and modernization. General Wickham approved an initial LID design on October 20, 1983. To meet his requirements, the planners specifically developed an organization designed for contingency missions not involving heavy combat. They viewed the division as a first in organization requiring augmentation for sustained operations. They provided only enough support systems for the division to operate in a low threat environment for 48 hours without external support. At less than 11,000 soldiers, the final design was a sparse, foot-mobile organization. One receives a better understanding of the evolving role of the light infantry soldier through battlefield examples. Specifically, the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, and the 1991 Persian Guff War are used to demonstrate the light force operating autonomously. Conversely, at the Armys National Training Center many heavy commanders are realizing that light forces in support of their operations are a valuable asset. The lesson learned is that the heavy-mix concept has become an important part of todays warfighting. Additionally, moving from the mid to high intensity battlefield to Military Operations Other Than War MOOTW, the light force has become a valued asset capable of performing a myriad of task.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics