By Thomas Phippen
The U.S. Army is developing brigades designed to quickly train new volunteer recruits in the event of a national emergency.
As the number of active duty personnel reaches its lowest level since before World War II, the Army has been pressured to develop strategies to increase battle-ready forces when situations arise.
Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley shed some light Thursday on a pilot program aimed at regenerating forces quickly in event of a national crisis.
The brigade forces would mimic advise-and-assist units currently used to train foreign forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. For day-to-day operations, the battalions would deploy overseas on missions to assist allies, but “if there was a national emergency I assume people would volunteer,” Milley said, according to Federal News Radio.
“We could take soldiers and put them through basic training and [Advanced Individual Training] so four or five months’ worth of training and then marry those soldiers up to those [brigades] and run them through collective training to get them ready as a unit,” Milley said during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
The brigades would consist only of senior officers during peacetime missions, and new volunteers would be recruited as privates when force augmentation is necessary.
Milley hopes to launch the first brigade by 2018, but plans to create more. “What I would like to do, it may not be achievable, but what I want to do is probably try to create five of these — one for each of the geographic combatant commanders,” Milley said, according to DefenseNews.
The Army laid out concerns over the planned force reduction last year. “You don’t regain either end-strength or readiness overnight, even if someone writes a sufficiently large check,” Former Army Secretary John McHugh told the Army Times last year.
The Army plans to reduce active duty force to under one million personnel. “History tells us that depending on the situation, you might have to have more than that,” Milley said.
Follow Thomas Phippen on Twitter