[pjw] INFO: Army Guard reorganizes for possible fights with Russia and China - Stars & Stripes 8/1
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Sun Aug 9 13:39:02 EDT 2020
We've been pondering how to incorporate Gov. Brown's quasi-refusal to
deploy the National Guard to Portland to quell protests (she reportedly
sent unarmed personnel to do paperwork while the PPB guarded buildings)
into this year's letter asking her to keep the guard from deploying to
I came across this article which indicates both that the Guard is
really being used as reserves for international conflicts AND that the US
thinks there will be a war with Russia or China...
A lot to ponder.
peace and justice works
Army Guard begins to reorganize force into eight divisions to prepare for
possible fights with Russia and China
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 1, 2020
WASHINGTON - The Army National Guard will move most of its brigades
under the command of its eight division headquarters as it reorganizes
its fighting formations to give the force more combat power and some
soldiers new career opportunities, officials said.
The Guard move will mark a substantial increase in the number of fully
manned divisions that the Army can deploy, as only the service's 10
active-duty divisions are now filled out with subordinate units, said
Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the director of the Army National Guard. The
increase to 18 complete Army divisions comes at a time when service
officials believe a major conflict with a near-peer rival -- namely
Russia or China -- would require the employment of full divisions, he
For the last two decades, the Army has focused on its smaller brigade
combat teams as its primary fighting elements for counterterrorism
operations and deployments focused on assisting the forces of other
"When you look at the  National Defense Strategy and competition
among near-peer competitors, peer competitors -- that great power
competition, there is a potential for large-scale combat operations --
[and] it could actually be division level fights," Hokanson said in an
interview Thursday ahead of the Guard's planned announcement
Saturday. "We wanted to make sure that everything that the Army
National Guard did was in support of the total Army and the NDS, and
one issue was that our divisions are just headquarters they don't have
brigades under them."
The National Defense Strategy, crafted by former Defense Secretary Jim
Mattis, guides the Pentagon on future planning, placing the potential
for major conflict with rivals China and Russia as the nation's primary
national security threat. For the two decades prior, the military had
focused almost exclusively on fighting transnational terrorist
organizations, which the strategy defined as a lesser threat than those
posed by nation-state competitors.
The Army National Guard now has eight headquarters elements stationed
in Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Kansas, Indiana,
California and New York, which are each made up of about 300 or so
soldiers. Some have established relationships with subordinate units,
but none are manned in the way the Regular Army has built its
divisions, which boast about 20,000 soldiers.
After studying the formations, Hokanson found the Army Guard had plenty
of brigades and battalions to staff those divisions, which would allow
the formations to train together and establish critical bonds should
they be needed to deploy together into combat.
The actual division alignments have yet to be finalized. This week,
officials notified key lawmakers and stakeholders in the 54 U.S. states
and territories that host Army Guard formations about the plans, Guard
officials said. They will require governors and other top state leaders
to agree to partnerships with some units falling under the control of
headquarters in other states.
But Hokanson said the new alignment will have no impact on the
governors' and state adjutant generals' control of the forces assigned
to their home states. He also said the National Guard has not asked
Congress to provide additional funding for the changes.
The plan calls for more brigades to align with other divisions in their
general regions of the nation.
In one example, Hokanson said New Mexico's 1-200th Infantry Battalion
would become part of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in
Oregon, which would become part of with the 40th Infantry Division
based in California.
The new alignment, the general said, will actually provide new
opportunities for soldiers serving in units such as the 1-200th, where
states have no higher headquarters in a combat unit. Under the
reorganization, a battalion commander or a battalion sergeant major who
performed well would have an opportunity for promotions to serve in
higher commands within the new division -- potentially even becoming a
brigade commander or division commander of a unit based in another
"So, if you've got a lieutenant colonel or sergeant major out there in
New Mexico, and one of them is absolutely, potentially the best
battalion commander or senior [noncommissioned officer] in the entire
division [right now] really wouldn't matter -- there's no opportunity
for them to advance," Hokanson said. "This would provide us the ability
to better manage our talent across the National Guard by providing
opportunities to those officers and NCOs that demonstrate the greatest
potential and capability -- we then give them the potential for
opportunities beyond where they might normally get if they just stayed
in their [home] state."
He said he hopes to have all the National Guard divisions established
in the coming months and reach initial operating capability -- meaning
they have trained enough together to be certified as minimally
effective to deploy and fight as a unit -- by Oct. 1, 2021.
Hokanson on Monday will receive a fourth star as he is promoted to the
director of the National Guard, making him one of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff. The new plan will then be overseen largely by his replacement,
Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, who is now adjutant general for Minnesota. Jensen
will be promoted to lieutenant general and also become Army Guard
Like the bigger Army, Hokanson pointed out the National Guard has been
heavily used during the last 20 years, at home -- where Guard soldiers
have responded to myriad natural disasters, civil unrest and the recent
coronavirus pandemic -- and abroad, where they have regularly deployed
to the Middle East and Afghanistan. He wants those units to be
well-prepared for the next kind of fight they could encounter with a
major military power.
"We never want to fight," he said. "The goal is to prevent conflict."
But if that fight does come, he wants the Army Guard soldiers ready to
deploy as a full division that has spent time working together, instead
of having to piece together a division at the last minute. He compared
it to a basketball team where the players have spent years playing
together as opposed to a pickup game where teammates might not know one
"When you go out on the playground and everyone picks players and you
just go versus having a team, and you may only practice once a month
and two weeks over the summer, but over the course of months and years
you know your strengths and weaknesses, you've worked together and as a
team, you would play much better together," Hokanson said. "That's what
we're looking at with this."
dickstein.corey at stripes.com
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