Best Defense

Jeez, what’s happening to Army artillery?

First of all… this is all being talked about in hushed tones around the office. None of this is official… YET.

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By “Howie Zer”
Best Defense guest columnist

First of all… this is all being talked about in hushed tones around the office. None of this is official… YET.

The other day, at a meeting consisting of high level commanders, General Abrams outlined his views on Division Artillery, and more to the point the uselessness of it. Keep in mind that DIVARTY’s were just re-stood up across the Army in recognition that our units and branch as a whole has been underutilized and left to atrophy over the past decade. In 2005 when we lost DIVARTY and pushed the FA BN’s to the maneuver brigades — long story short, nobody looked after the BN’s. The only thing they really cared about was were we filling in for Infantry where they did not have enough, did we carry out red cycle taskings, etc. There was no mother DIVARTY to keep an eye out for the BN’s, fire supporters, etc. Training fell apart, and institutional knowledge has bled away at a dangerous rate. Just try and imagine an Aviation BN being told how to train and do it’s job by an Infantry COL. There is absolutely no way that would fly (no pun intended). You get my idea.

So that brings us back to today.  From what we have heard…and nobody knows this for sure… but supposedly on Monday, FORSCOM is going to come out with memorandums stating that all DIVARTY’S that are not stood up should halt all activity. All units that have stood up will stand to, and that the FA BN’s will go back to the MNVR BDE’s. If Arbams can do this as a FORSCOM CDR and go against over two years of effort by personnel to get this branch back on the tracks again, I think that really spells the demise of FA as the branch that it once was. This is also well timed as General Odierno just retired, and as we all know, the iron giant was a FA officer.

Field Artillery has been struggling for years, and the branch has issues already within it’s ranks. The impact of this could be medium in the short range, but monumental in the long range.

Photo credit: U.S. Library of Congress



Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at Twitter: @tomricks1

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