Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1992
For more than 200 years, the United States Army has served the American people in many ways. Along with the U.S. Navy, it fought the war that gave the new nation its independence from Great Britain and then waged the Civil War to preserve the Union. In this century, it has helped defend the nation from foreign enemies in two world wars and several lesser conflicts. But its contributions go beyond the nation's wars. It has not only deterred aggression but also helped to project American power to trouble spots around the globe. Over the years, it has contributed to American society through advances in scientific and technical knowledge, improvements in public health, construction of roads and waterways, aid to victims of natural disasters, and numerous other ventures. During fiscal year (FY) 1992, the U.S. Army continued this long tradition of service to the nation.
Fiscal year 1992 opened at a time of great turbulence as the old bipolar structure that had dominated international relations since World War II disintegrated. During the mid and late 1980s, Mikhail S. Gorbachev had employed perestroika (restructuring of the economy) and glasnost (openness) in a desperate attempt to save an ailing Soviet Union from collapse. In December 1988, the Soviet President announced the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe, leaving Communist regimes without the support that had bolstered their rule for over forty years. The end of these regimes followed swiftly. In June 1989, the Polish resistance party Solidarity won nationwide elections, heralding the end of one-party rule. In August, the Lithuanian parliament declared illegal its 1940 annexation to the Soviet Union. Two months later, the Hungarian Communist Party declared itself non-Communist, and on 9 November, a new East German regime opened the Berlin Wall. By the end of 1989, Czechoslovakia had formed a noncommunist cabinet, Nicolae Ceausescu had been executed in Romania, and Bulgarian Communists had renounced their hold on power.
Events followed with stunning rapidity over the ensuing two years. During 1990, Eastern Europe held its first free elections, the two Germanies reunited, and the Soviet Congress repealed the Communist Party's monopoly of political power. As the old Soviet Union disintegrat-
ed, Gorbachev strove to form a new compact among its member states while maintaining his control against a coup attempt by hardliners within his own party. Unable to resist the rising power of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, he resigned in December 1991, leaving a loosely affiliated commonwealth in place of the old Soviet Union.
Any euphoria within the United States over the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War was tempered by the realization of continuing tension and upheaval around the world. Indeed, the demise of the old bipolar structure often released ancient hatreds and old rivalries that had been suppressed by the superpowers. In Yugoslavia, an ethnic cauldron was about to explode. In China, the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 1989 revealed a harassed, aging elite clinging to power in a nation of increasing weight in the world balance. Antagonism between India and Pakistan lay dormant but threatened to erupt again at any time. In North Korea, the United States faced a potential enemy still dedicated, even without Soviet support, to reunifying the Korean peninsula under its rule.
In Africa, South America, and the Middle East, the problems were, if anything, more intractable. Famine and upheaval were widespread in Africa, notably in South Africa, where the black majority challenged white apartheid. Even with the impending settlement of the civil war in El Salvador, Latin America faced seemingly insoluble economic problems that spawned unrest. And in the Middle East, the perennial Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as the threat to Western interests from Iran and Iraq, posed a constant challenge to American policymakers already concerned about the growing global menace from proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; state-sponsored terrorism; and illicit drug trafficking across international borders.
The Bush administration and the Department of Defense had to produce a new national strategy and force structure to respond to this radically changed world. Since World War II, U.S. military strategy had focused on the Soviet Union, containment, mutual security alliances, strategic nuclear weapons, and forces and materiel pre-positioned in Europe. Despite the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, President George Bush and his advisers still saw the preservation of American access and influence, the defeat or deterrence of aggression, and promotion of regional stability and cooperation as their objectives. They still relied on mutual security and strategic deterrence to accomplish those objectives. They planned, however, to reduce the forward presence of U.S. forces overseas and to rely more on a contingency force of heavy, light, and special operations units based in the continental United States in reacting to crises.
Whatever the objectives of American defense policy in the post-Cold War world, they would have to be accomplished by a smaller military
establishment. Responding to a Congress eager to cut military spending in the face of a thawing Cold War and a rising military budget, Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney announced in the summer of 1990 a plan to cut the Army from 770,000 to 520,000 and from eighteen to fourteen divisions by 1995. By the end of FY 1990, the Army had dropped to 728,000 men and women, largely through higher recruiting standards and programs to reduce manpower. Under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, the Army proposed the closure of more than 200 installations overseas and within the United States. And the Army planned to reduce training costs through the expanded use of simulations and other training aids at home stations.
As the Cold War came to an end, however, events in Panama and the Persian Gulf showed the continued need for strong military forces in a dangerous world. On 20 December 1989, more than 25,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines invaded Panama to overthrow the rogue regime of General Manuel Noriega, who was suspected of involvement in drug trafficking. Through simultaneous airborne night assaults against twenty-seven targets across the country, American troops overwhelmed the surprised Panamanian Defense Force and quickly established control. On 3 January, Noriega surrendered to American troops who had encircled his refuge in the Vatican embassy. American troops remained in the country for several more weeks, helping the new Panamanian government restore order and basic services to the population.
On 2 August 1990, the same day that President Bush was announcing a 25 percent cut in U.S. armed forces by 1995, more than 100,000 Iraqi troops overran the oil-rich Persian Gulf nation of Kuwait. When Saudi Arabia requested assistance, the United States launched DESERT SHIELD, a buildup of over 500,000 American military personnel, including more than 300,000 soldiers from Europe and the continental United States. On 17 January 1991, after Iraq had refused to withdraw from Kuwait, the United States and its allies commenced DESERT STORM, an intensive bombing campaign followed on 24 February by a ground offensive to liberate Kuwait. Within 100 hours, coalition forces destroyed more than 3,800 Iraqi tanks, captured an estimated 60,000 Iraqi prisoners, rendered 36 of the 43 Iraqi divisions unfit for continued offensive operations, and drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
Not surprisingly, the Persian Gulf War and its legacy had a major impact on the Army for the remainder of FY 1991 and FY 1992. In particular, the Army studied carefully the numerous lessons on mobilization, deployment, and sustainment in a theater 8,700 miles from the continental United States. Although existing plans had served the Army well, the Army had also greatly benefited from the five-month hiatus between the Iraqi invasion and the start of DESERT STORM. Postwar Army evaluations
focused on problems in mobilization of the reserves, including problems in combat readiness of "roundout" brigades and the lack of a standardized training validation plan, as well as the lack of joint deployment training and shortages in strategic lift capability. On the other hand, the Army greatly benefited from pre-positioning of war stocks in Europe and from arrangements for support from host nations. In general, the "Big Five" of Army weapons systemsthe Abrams tank, the Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and the Patriot air defense systemperformed beyond expectations. The Gulf War would have a continuing impact on Army training and education. Given the demands of overseas deployments, the National Training Center conducted only five unit rotations during FY 1991, and other programs experienced similar declines.
In the aftermath of DESERT STORM, the Army resumed its downsizing. For FY 1991, the budget dropped again to a level of $73 billion, the sixth consecutive year of decline in real figures. During the fiscal year, the Army inactivated the 2d Armored and 9th Infantry Divisions, and planners anticipated a decline to a four-corps, twenty-division force by 1995. By the end of FY 1991, the Army's active component strength had dropped to 706,160. With regard to the reserve component, the Army deferred formal reductions pending the response of Congress to its Total Force Policy Report.
At a time of reductions in force structure and personnel and the resulting potential for demoralization, the Army recognized that quality of life programs were more important than ever before. Budget cuts limited the construction of new housing, so the Army relied on such programs as the Whole Neighborhood Revitalization Program and the encouragement of construction on federal land by private developers, who would then lease their properties to soldiers. Fortunately, the Military Child Care Act of 1989 assured minimum funding levels and improvements in the staffs of Army child care facilities. Through such efforts as the Gateway to Care program, the Army sought to increase the quality of medical services for personnel while controlling skyrocketing health care costs. The Army also adjusted its financial benefits to ensure that participants in JUST CAUSE and the Gulf War received Imminent Danger Pay, and it also announced that enlisted men would not have to pay federal income tax on military compensation for service in the Gulf War.
Budget reductions likewise had a major impact on the Army's modernization program. From FY 1989 to FY 1991, the procurement budget dropped from $14.8 billion to $9 billion. To keep a rein on costs, the Army issued new equipment to units on the basis of their priority for deployment in the event of a crisis, and it also focused on acquiring new, more advanced weapons systems rather than upgrading existing ones. The
Armored Systems Modernization Plan, for example, curtailed production of M1A1 and M1A2 tanks with Block III and sought instead a Block III heavy chassis that it could also use for the Combat Mobility Vehicle, the Advanced Field Artillery System, and the Infantry Fighting Vehicle. But the Army still managed to continue development and procurement of the Comanche Light Helicopter, the Forward Area Air Defense System, and the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The Army also continued its participation in the Strategic Defense Initiative, experimenting with free electron lasers, neutral particle beams, and artificial intelligence.
With regard to mobilization, deployment, and sustainment, the remaining months of FY 1991 after Operation DESERT STORM provided too short a time for the Army to do much more than assess the lessons of the Gulf War. The Department of Defense Total Force Policy Report at the end of the fiscal year confirmed the use of National Guard brigades to round out ready divisions and otherwise essentially reaffirmed the integration of active and reserve roles that the Army had formalized in 1973. Congress did pass legislation that confirmed that reservists called to active duty would retain medical insurance provided by their employers. But further reforms in the Army's structure for mobilization, deployment, and sustainment remained for the future.
In the aftermath of the Gulf War, the Army returned to a host of subsidiary functions in addition to its traditional peacetime task of preparation for war. Army engineers continued their involvement in civil works and water projects, and Army personnel provided relief for victims of natural disasters and participated in the war on drugs. By April 1991, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) had eleven antidrug teams in five Latin American countries. During FY 1991, the Army also allocated about $350 million for environmental cleanup and established a program to help its commanders comply with federal and state laws pertaining to the environment.
In FY 1992 there was more turbulence around the globe as the reverberations from the collapse of the Soviet Union spread. The fledgling Commonwealth of Independent States endured a new period of instability as the twelve former Soviet republics sparred over boundaries and renewed old cultural rivalries. Turmoil erupted again in Afghanistan as rival groups struggled for power. In the Balkans, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia seceded from Serb Yugoslavia. When Bosnian Serbs reacted by bombarding Sarajevo in May 1992, President Bush considered intervention, and the United Nations (UN) backed the use of force to facilitate aid to the troubled area. With regard to the Middle East, the United States and the former Soviet Union sponsored peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors and Lebanese terrorists returned the last of their American
hostages, but terrorism continued to be a major American concern. Despite warnings from the United Nations and U.S. troop exercises in Kuwait, Iraq continued to block weapons inspections mandated by the Gulf War peace accords. The troubles with Iraq and reports of arms discussions between China and Iran underscored U.S. concern over the growing arsenals of armor, missiles, and chemical weapons assembled by many Third World countries.
At home, a presidential election year held most of the attention during FY 1992, but domestic emergencies would demand the Army's attention. In April, riots in Los Angeles followed the acquittals of policemen in the Rodney King beating case. In August and September, two massive hurricanesAndrew and Inikiripped through Florida, Louisiana, and Hawaii.
The worldwide ferment added to the difficulties encountered by the Bush administration and the Department of Defense in preparing a new national military strategy for the post-Cold War world. The Soviet Union no longer presented such a powerful, monolithic threat, and strategic arms reductions laid out by President Bush and President Yeltsin in their June 1992 summit contributed to the ongoing thaw in relations. Nevertheless, American leaders remained concerned about control of the old Soviet nuclear arsenal and the proliferation of Soviet nuclear technology. A North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) conference in November 1991, while acknowledging the collapse of the Soviet threat, pointed out the danger from political instability in Eastern Europe and from the spread of weapons of mass destruction. During the early spring of 1992, Congress and the Department of Defense struggled to determine vital American interests and to redefine the role of the military in the post-Cold War world. The Army viewed as among the most likely scenarios a replay of the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, a North Korean invasion of South Korea, concurrent conflicts in the two regions, a coup in Panama, anarchy in the Philippines, and a Russian invasion of Lithuania and Poland.
The new National Military Strategy (NMS) of January 1992 and the new Defense Planning Guidance of May 1992 shed some light on the direction in which American leaders were moving. Envisioning smaller forces and defense budgets in the future, the NMS rested on four concepts: deterrence and defense, forward presence in key regions, power projection, and reconstitution of forces through the formation of new units and expansion of the industrial base. The new guidance called for the use of military force where necessary to maintain the status of the United States as the only remaining superpower. It also stressed diplomacy, cooperative relationships, and a collective response over multilateral U.S. interventions. The document promised American support for democracy and peaceful relations among the member states of the Commonwealth of
Independent States, and it reiterated the U.S. interest in regional stability in the Middle East.
Such was the context in which the Army and its new Chief of Staff, General Gordon R. Sullivan, approached FY 1992. The primary theme of the new fiscal year would be downsizing, or the reduction of force structure, end strength, and overseas presence. Lacking a major threat from a Soviet ground force in Europe or an Iraqi ground force in the Persian Gulf region, and facing large budget deficits at home, the nation could no longer justify an Army of more than 700,000. Having already begun downsizing in previous fiscal years, the Army would continue the painful but necessary process during FY 1992. It would involve the continued inactivation of units as well as voluntary and involuntary separation programs to reduce military and civilian personnel. Army planners envisioned the reduction of the active component of the Army to 580,000 by the end of FY 1997.
General Sullivan was determined that the reductions would not produce a "hollow Army." The Army retained too many worldwide responsibilities and faced the likelihood of too many contingencies to allow a drawdown that would leave it unable to fight. One of General Sullivan's favorite mottos was "No More Task Force Smiths," an allusion to the ill-prepared, ill-equipped American force that failed to stop the North Korean invasion in the early days of the Korean War. Any reductions in force structure and manpower levels must still leave an Army that was organized, trained, equipped, and ready to deploy at a moment's notice to any part of the world and carry out the mission assigned to it by the nation's leaders.
For the Army, this emphasis on readiness meant that it would have to stress both the continued addition of quality personnel and superb training. To ensure a quality force for the years ahead, the Army needed to recruit almost 75,000 high school graduates, the young men and women who would be the noncommissioned officers and leaders of the future. The Army's emphasis on readiness required equal opportunity and the elimination of discrimination to ensure the best use of available manpower. It also needed to maintain high training standards and to emphasize contingency planning, joint operations, and unforeseen circumstances in all exercises in order to prepare its soldiers for a wide range of missions from humanitarian work and disaster relief to actual combat.
During FY 1992, the Army would continue to work on the revision of its doctrine. During fiscal years 1990 and 1991, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) had continued its efforts to develop a more specific version of the AirLand Battle concept. Created in the mid 1970s as a response to a possible Soviet attack on Western Europe, this concept involved nonlinear combat operations by highly mobile, self-contained
forces with close air support. In addition to battlefield doctrine, the Army would revise its doctrine to reflect an increased emphasis on contingency operations and on "strategic agility," the pre-positioning of materiel and the improved tracking of supplies and equipment shipped outside of the continental United States. Under General Sullivan's leadership, the Army would also try to develop new ways to test doctrine, training, force structure, and equipment.
Modernization was a major Army concern in FY 1992. The Army wanted to provide its soldiers with the best equipment in a timely manner. The service's research and development organization would work to reduce the number of obsolete weapons and to upgrade other systems with the latest technology. The Army sought proven, technologically advanced systems that would assure superiority over future adversaries, and it also sought to improve the organization of its science and technology programs. Nevertheless, as in FY 1991, tight budgets would force the Army to reduce the scale of its modernization efforts.
While it tried to maintain its readiness for contingencies outside the continental United States, the Army would continue to serve the nation at home. Historically, the Army in peacetime has provided a ready source of trained and disciplined manpower for various missions that lie outside the purview or capability of other government agencies. Thus, in FY 1992, the Army would again carry out several nonmilitary missions, whether working to control flooding in Chicago, Illinois; helping local authorities restore law and order in Los Angeles after the riots; aiding local law enforcement in the war against illicit drugs; fighting forest fires; or joining the battle against Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and hepatitis A.
Although FY 1992 was a time of great satisfaction for the Army as it contemplated the end of the Cold War, it was also a time of rapid and revolutionary change that presented the Army with many challenges. With declining budgets, shrinking force structure and manpower levels, and rapidly evolving technology, the Army's leaders above all faced the challenge of preserving an Army trained and ready to carry out its many duties in support of national policy. The decisions that they made during FY 1992 would influence the Army not only through the remainder of the decade but into the next century.
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Last Updated 21 July 2003
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