17:48 6 Apr 2003
One of the units currently in the process of deploying to Gulf region is the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. This unit has traded in its tanks and IFVs for an assortment of Humvees and helicopters. The idea is that, taking our likely enemies into account, we need something “between” the heavy tank divisions and the light infantry divisions. The Humvees are armed with .50 cal machine guns and TOW missiles.
By using Humvees instead of Bradleys, the unit is able to be deployed much more rapidly, and is more mobile once it arrives. Although TOW missiles are able to take out any tanks any enemy can put into the field, the 2nd ACR is more suited to scouting and fighitng light or irregular enemy forces. Can you say “An Nasiriyah?” How about “supply line?” These are the traditional missions of cavalry.
The redesign of this unit is a great example of the “transformational” army envisioned by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Although I don’t think he was involved in the changes to the 2nd ACR, this is the sort of thing that he strongly supports, one of the reasons why he is disliked by many current and former generals. The thinking seems to be that medium forces like these can outfight other light units and outrun or outmaneuver heavy forces. If they really get into a tough spot, US air power will be available to bail them out. This unit, along with the soon-to-be operational Stryker brigades, will allow the Army to quickly deploy and fight where heavy tanks and IFV can’t go or would take too long to arrive.
As long as potential enemies have large numbers of tanks, we’ll need tanks to fight them. Syria, Iran, and especially North Korea all have large tank forces. But as the war on terror (World War 4) progresses, we will need lighter forces that don’t take three months to get to the front.
Update 08:32 7 Apr 2003
Something I didn’t mention in the post is that the Humvees are lightly armored to protect the crew from small arms fire and fragments. Also, the 2nd ACR is one of the units slated to convert to the Stryker in the near future, but there’s a lot of haggling going on about that as far as I can gather. Right now, one brigade from the 2nd ID at Fort Lewis, WA, is about to go operational with the Stryker. I’m not sure who’s next.