1st Armored Division adapts to new challenges

By Capt. Royal BanksJune 2, 2023

Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program supported by ACCNJ #contractingforvictory (Photo Credit: Kristen Rounsaville) VIEW ORIGINAL
Paladin Live Fire
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Soldiers with 1st Armored Division conduct a high altitude live fire exercise with M109A6 Howitzers "Paladins" at Fort Bliss, Texas on August 19, 2020. (U.S. Army photo by: PFC Clara Hoffman) (Photo Credit: Cpl. William Dickinson) VIEW ORIGINAL

The mission of the U.S. Army is to deploy, fight, and win the nation’s wars as part of the joint force. A major part to winning is the ability to adapt.

The conflicts in the Middle East challenged the Army to fight a nimble insurgency, which led to the creation of the brigade combat team in 2002. Brigade combat teams are designed to be self-sufficient and tactical, and worked in counterinsurgency operations.

Today, as the potential of large-scale combat operations with near-peer adversaries arise, the Army is restructuring its divisions to consolidate combat power and capabilities.

Col. Thurman C.C. McKenzie, 1st Armored Division Artillery commander, spoke on how both the battlefield and our adversaries have changed.

“Our adversaries have had an opportunity to observe us for the past 20 years,” he said.

“The ability to mass combat power at will be critical to our success going forward. The most effective way to do that is to organize around the division.”

Maj. Scott Harvie, Force Management Officer for 1st Armored Division, spoke on why the Army is restructuring its divisions.

“The Army has determined that the division needs to be the decisive unit of action of where maneuver is planned,” he said. “Previously, that has been the brigade combat teams’ responsibility based on the missions the Army has been asked to do for the past 20 years.”

As part of the Army’s divisional restructure, the 1st Armored Division is consolidating all field artillery battalions, reorganizing its sustainment brigade, and standing up new support units. One of these units is the Extended Range Cannon Artillery battalion.

“The division fields organizations that become landing spots for new technologies, weapon systems, and capabilities. The ERCA is one of those capabilities,” Harvie said.

The ERCA battalion doubles the range of the cannons in the division. This gives the division commander more options to accomplish fire missions.

Air defense artillery is vital during large-scale combat operations. On November 21st, 2022, 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery Regiment was reorganized under 1st Armored Division, enabling America’s tank division to integrate long range air defense capabilities.

Large-scale combat operations do not solely rely on firepower. Today’s battlefield consists of multiple domains, with information being one of them.

In the near future, the 1st Armored Division will stand up an Intelligence and Electronic Warfare battalion. This unit will conduct intelligence analysis and sensing.

To combat misinformation and disinformation, information operations will be further embedded within the division, alongside public affairs and civil affairs teams.

As the Army anticipates a new era of combat, restructuring its divisions and implementing new capabilities is critical to mission success.

“The incorporation of all of these new capabilities is going to force us to train differently and adapt new tactics, training, and procedures,” said McKenzie. “Which is very exciting.”