Lovelace: Army to move toward smaller, more mobile units

Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The U.S. Army plans to sport a new look by the year 2025, with troops that are more agile, versatile and lethal.

Some of that change eventually will reach units based here, says Maj. Gen. Jim Lovelace, commander of the U.S. Army in Alaska.

Two Army brigades already have seen some changes at Fort Lewis, Wash. By 2007, the Army hopes as many as eight of its brigades will be wearing the new look, he said.

That eventually could include the 172nd Battalion and its 3,500 troops at Fort Wainwright.

''We got the infrastructure, we've got the troops, we have the support from the community; let's put one here,'' Lovelace told the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce board of directors at a Monday luncheon.

The changes will modify an Army that was shaped by the Cold War after World War II, where heavy equipment was designed to fight on the plains of Eastern Europe, he said.

''It was a neat, clean world when we had to just deal with the Soviets,'' Lovelace said.

But countries like China, Iraq, Colombia, India and North Korea became more of a military menace to the U.S. after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and Russia's Communist threat eased, Lovelace said.

''These people make things complicated,'' he said.

Those nations have used terrorism, narcotics trafficking and organized crime to disrupt U.S. security, Lovelace said.

''Nobody wants to fight your strengths, they want to fight your weaknesses,'' he said. ''We had problems in Kosovo because they put their forces right beside the civilian population.''

The Army is revamping is strategy to deal with the new threats.

That means making tanks and combat units lighter and more lethal, and getting them to trouble spots more quickly.

''Eighty percent of what comes in theater is sustainment; fuel, bullets and food. If you make all of that smaller, it will be easier to sustain.''

The objective is to have a brigade combat ready in 96 hours, a division in 120 hours and five divisions in 30 days, Lovelace said.

''Our Army is still in a mentality that we're going to duke it out,'' he said. ''We're going to have to be more strategically mobile.''

The strategic location of Forts Wainwright and Richardson makes them invaluable, because they help the Army get troops where they need to go more quickly, Lovelace said.

''The future is bright for the Army in Alaska,'' he said.

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