The US Army has resorted to stripping its foreign stockpiles and using rotational brigade teams as it strives to increase its numbers as a part of US President Donald Trump’s remilitarization ambitions, all the while trying to cut expenses wherever possible.
The US Army is planning to move its South Korean pre-positioned stock back to US soil and use it to equip a new armored brigade team, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley says.
According to a report by Defense News, the Army is rebalancing its brigade combat teams (BCTs) in order to create more armored BCTs at the expense of lighter infantry BCTs. While some armored BCTs, like the 15th BCT, will be created by transforming their existing infantry counterparts, others, such as the planned 16th BCT will be created from scratch. That is where South Korean stockpile comes in.
The Army pre-positioned stock (APS) was created to be used to support a rapid response contingency operation, should something go wrong overseas. However, the US Army is increasingly taking its APSs for use in military exercises and training. Now, they will use it to outfit a newly created brigades.
Taking the equipment from South Korea will be necessary to create the 16th armored BCT. "Absent that, we won't be able to do it, given the money that we have and production and vehicle inventory that we have," Milley said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday.
The 16th team will be a rotational force, a new US military strategy that presents an alternative to permanently locating troops abroad. Rotational forces will move along with all their equipment, which is supposed to increase their mobility and availability for quick deployment to any part of the world, even ones without stocks for them.
The US has already exercised the deployment of a rotational armored BCT this January. It took 14 days to move the whole unit from a German seaport to Poland and get it to full combat readiness, which US Army superiors seem to consider a good result.
According to Milley, rotational units have "the effect of a permanent unit in there in terms of battlefield effect, but [don't] come at the cost and overhead of a permanently stationed force."
Who would have thought that moving tanks around the globe would be cheaper than keeping them in one place? Well, permanent forward-stationed BCTs require commissaries — supermarkets for soldiers — which have to offer pretty much the same goods GIs can get back home, as well as apartments for soldier's families and schools for their children.