HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The US Army is honing in on ways to increase armor capability and capacity as deployments for armored brigade combat teams are expected to increase, according to the director of the Army’s Capability Integration Center.
There is a very high demand for armored brigade combat teams as the Army prepares to send another rotational ABCT to Europe while keeping one in South Korea and in the Middle East, training another one and letting yet another rest following a deployment.
“The hard thing for the Army is we don’t have a lot of flexibility right now,” Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told Defense News in an interview at the Association of the US Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exhibition on Tuesday.
McMaster said he is concerned that the Army is getting too small and as it shrinks could cut away some capability and capacity that is difficult to regrow if needed.
The three-star said in an earlier panel presentation at the symposium that the Army has some “good options” to increase armor capacity and planned to present those to the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. “By December we will have designed the Army of 2030 as a benchmark to say what can we do today to evolve the force,” he added.
McMaster stressed the need for capability like ABCTs because he is concerned the Army might be “out of position” in Europe when it comes to deterring Russia and providing reassurance to allies.
For example, at one point the Army's infantry was 46 percent mechanized and that number has fallen to 13 percent, McMaster noted. Actions in Ukraine, he said, are serving as a wake-up call.
One solution, McMaster told Defense News, is to get more ABCTs in the force, especially in the active force. “But also we are looking hard at more opportunities to improve the capacity within the existing BCTs,” he added.
The Army has done some extensive learning and experimentation on how to grow BCTs from two battalion to three battalion organizations. “Without that third battalion, you don’t have depth in your formation,” McMaster said.
The Army also has recognized its cavalry squadrons also “need sufficient depth,” he said. “We are going to what’s called a 6X36 scout organization,” a platoon that consists of six vehicles and 36 scouts in order to “employ the appropriate combination of mounted and dismounted reconnaissance.”
Such platoons were evaluated at an Army Warfighting Assessment and at a National Training Center rotation.