Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1983



At the end of fiscal year (FY) 1982, the Army was in the midst of the most comprehensive modernization since World War II, one whose volume, diversity, and technological complexity were unlike any that had gone before. During FY 83, the focus of the modernization effort would be on quality, and its aim would be the building of an Army of Excellence. "It is quality that fosters respect and restraint on the part of potential foes," said Army Chief of Staff General Edward C. Meyer in October 1982. "It is quality that nourishes a favorable kinship with allies. It is quality that helps to maintain a supportive attitude in the public eye. And it is the recognition of quality that stirs soldiers to a healthy self-image of themselves, their units and the Army." Indeed the quest for quality was to be thematic throughout the new fiscal year as the Army prepared for the many diverse tasks it might be called upon to accomplish.

During the decade following the Vietnam War, noted General Meyer, the Army lacked three necessary ingredients for the attainment of quality: a sense of direction, willing and able participants, and assets sufficient to the intended task. U.S. military forces essentially remained static in strength and size. By late 1982, however, most of this was changing for the better. The Army began to modernize, spurred on by military competition from the Soviet Union, which had been upgrading its conventional and nuclear armed forces during the decade as the United States allowed its to languish. "The most serious threat facing the U.S. Army," said Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh, Jr., in October 1982, "is a major conventional war with the Soviets, especially considering the huge imbalance in numbers of weapons systems and fighting forces." During FY 83, the U.S. Army was determined to restore the military balance with the Soviet Union.

To help restore the balance of military power in Europe, the Army planned to deploy 572 U.S. Pershing and Cruise missiles in five NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) countries beginning in December 1982. These events were sure to receive the most attention during the nuclear arms negotiations scheduled to convene in Geneva in 1983. Also, President Ronald Reagan's Commission on Strategic Forces, headed by Brent Scowcroft, a


former national security adviser to President Gerald Ford, while endorsing the MX missile, proposed "building down" the opposing strategic nuclear forces. Other balance-restoring plans were to be set in motion.

Meanwhile, violence and terrorism escalated on the international scene in the autumn of 1982, causing power imbalances to take on new relevance. In the Middle East, Lebanon's president was assassinated, and massacres in two Palestinian refugee camps left 300 dead. Both events placed in jeopardy an international peace-keeping force, including a contingent of U.S. marines sent to Lebanon in September 1982. In West Germany, the Revolutionary Cells terrorist group took credit for the bombing of two U.S. military bases, while in Asia Minor there was the possibility that war between Iran, which was torn by controversy, and Iraq would escalate.

The worsening international situation at the beginning of FY 83 increased the U.S. Army's need to deal with its weaknesses. According to Secretary Marsh these included a lack of adequate air and sealift for overseas deployment and reinforcement, shortages of weapons and equipment, and frustratingly slow progress in the modernization of equipment. During the new fiscal year the Army planned to move aggressively to shore up these weaknesses and maximize its strengths. It intended to integrate new equipment and organizations as well as doctrine so that its soldiers would have the confidence that leads to victory in combat. For example, the Army planned to move forward with the emerging Air-Land Battle doctrine, which stresses extreme mobility, independent action, and deep strength against enemy follow-on echelons. The new weapons and equipment to complement the doctrine would receive a high priority in Army research and development during FY 83. Also, the Army's quest for quality would extend to six major areas, each absolutely essential to the maintenance of an effective land force: manning, training, modernizing, deploying, and sustaining. What follows are some of the more important aspects of these areas.

Manning. The Army committed itself to recruiting and retaining highly qualified and dedicated soldiers. It expected to surpass its 1982 accomplishment of having recruited 80 percent high school graduates. The Army also planned to continue its significant initiatives in the area of unit stability and cohesion, such as project COHORT (Cohesion, Operational Readiness, and Training). Soldiers in COHORT companies are trained as a unit and stay together as a unit throughout their first assignment. They are also allowed and encouraged to return to the unit of their initial assignment throughout their careers. The Army planned to adopt the new manning system based on units in


about 10 percent of its companies. A larger percentage would overburden the divisions, which were then engaged in two major modernization activities: conversion to Division 86 configuration in 1984 and the continuous infusion of new materiel. The Army also planned to redress deficiencies in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and aviator strength during FY 83 and to retain high-grade, skilled civilians who were needed to provide technical competence, advanced managerial skills, and institutional continuity to the Total Army.

Training. The Army intended to accelerate initiatives begun in FY 82 to improve the training effectiveness of the Total Army. It planned to introduce new equipment, reorganize units, provide realistic, mission-oriented training, modernize training facilities, construct ranges to accommodate new weapons, improve training management, and develop new training and simulation devices, which would allow the Army to train more effectively, especially with regard to costs. The Army also intended to send twenty battalions to the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California, in FY 83 for realistic and challenging unit combat training. National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) support units would participate in NTC training exercises as well. "With proper training," Secretary Marsh said, "we can see the culmination of leadership, managership and the ability to use modernization to the best advantage: a soldier-unit-Army prepared and eager to win."

Modernizing. The Army's modernization effort was to focus to a great extent on designing, developing, and procuring modern arms and equipment for the Total Army. The National Guard and reserve forces, whose equipment was old, obsolete, or incompatible with equipment in the Active Army, were included in the modernization scheme. Equipping the Total Army required modernization efforts in three areas: first, in organizations that use or maintain the new equipment; second, in the equipment itself; and third, in the facilities that support the organizations and equipment.

To provide units dedicated to rapid deployment missions, Special Operations Forces (SOF), and other forces capable of dealing with the broad spectrum of threats to U.S. interests, in FY 83 the Army intended to add to the Active Component (AC) 2 military intelligence group headquarters, 2 military intelligence battalions, 1 air defense artillery battalion, and 10 company-size units, and to modernize 16 battalions as a result of major weapons systems changes. The Army planned to make many organizational changes based on the Army 86 Modernization Plan. Some battalions in armored and mechanized infantry divisions would transition to Division 86 designs during FY 83 using personnel


and equipment assigned to the divisions at the time of transition. The Army intended to move forward with its High Technology Test Bed (HTTB) project involving the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, which would help the Army develop a lean, hard-hitting force-a new high technology light division.

The Army planned to modernize its equipment so that it outperformed Soviet equipment and thereby to compensate, to the extent possible, for the Soviet numerical advantage. The Army's research and development effort of the last decade had matured, and it was then procuring equipment that could restore much of the qualitative edge. The FY 83 procurement budget would give the Army another needed increase. Some of the items to be fielded were the M 1 Abrams tank; the Bradley Fighting Vehicle System (BFVS); the M9 armored combat earthmover, the Apache attack helicopter; the Viper-a portable close-in antiarmor weapon; the new TOW-2 (tube launched, optically tracked, wire guided) missiles and modification kits; the Patriot and Pershing II (PII) missile systems; and the Black Hawk helicopter.

Since many of the Army's facilities were built before or during the 1940s, many major components have failed, and extensive repair replacement has been required. Funding, however, has not yet kept pace with the needs. Nevertheless, in FY 83 the Army programmed a modest sum to restore its physical plant worldwide.

Mobilizing, Deploying, and Sustaining. At the beginning of FY 83, Secretary Marsh stated that "The history of warfare has shown us that the power that can first mobilize its forces, first bring those forces effectively to bear, and then fully sustain them, stands the best chance of winning. Conventional war today and in the forseeable future is no different so far as the outcome is concerned." The Army planned to redress the shortages in equipment and training facilities for mobilization. The FY 83 budget included money to develop standard designs for the needed facilities and for site adaptation of these plans. Such advance planning would help to reduce mobilization construction response time by approximately 90 days.

As noted above, at the beginning of FY 83 there was a lack of adequate sealift and airlift for overseas deployment and reinforcement. Correcting these deficiencies would be a major Army concern in FY 83. Closely allied with deploying an Army is the ability to sustain it. "Considering the condition of our war reserve stocks, the unfortunate equipment situation of our reserves, and the uncertainty of host-nation support in time of conflict," Secretary Marsh added, "we must vigorously analyze such sustainment problems and then recommend solutions to resolve them." In FY 83, the Army planned to increase its war reserve stocks, continue


improving the area of host-nation support (HNS), provide more air-cushioned landing vehicles, and continue standardizing and streamlining automated logistics systems that support supply, maintenance, transportation, and ammunition functions during wartime.

At the beginning of FY 83 the perfection the Army sought was still distant, but the Army was in an exciting time of transition. As General Meyer stated in October 1982, "Our direction is clear, our people good, and long term programs for correcting deficiencies set in place." The Army was headed "toward a quality Army-well trained, disciplined and combat-ready." General Meyer concluded that quality materiel in the hands of quality units was a reality, "and in the years ahead, as production swings into gear, this fact will be increasingly evident to all elements of the Total Army."

The account that follows reports how the Army met the challenges implicit in General Meyer's statement during FY 83.



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Last updated 9 March 2004