By Eve Meinhardt/ParaglideOctober 30, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - October 16 marked the quiet transition of the XVIII Airborne Corps from the Army of Excellence structure of the late 1980s to a modular corps, designed to fight and work alone or with units across the Army in a joint environment.
"In September 2001, the Army had to look at its existing force, the 10 divisions that it had and it had to figure out how to change them to adapt to what was perceived as the long war. From that came modularity," said Tommie Brown, mission support element, G7, XVIII Abn. Corps.
A modular structure gives the XVIII Abn. Corps the ability to command and control any combination of divisions, brigade combat teams or support brigades from anywhere in the Army or other service equivalents.
The transformation started in January 2004 and continued through this year, as various units across Fort Bragg were activated, inactivated or converted to the modular structure.
"The modular headquarters is designed to be an operational headquarters and with augmentation can be a joint headquarters, a joint task force or a joint force land component," said Ed Bradford, MSE, G7, XVIII Abn. Corps. "It's completely modular, so when the headquarters deploys, it has all its staff with it and no longer needs to get support from other units working in the headquarters."
The XVIII Abn. Corps' headquarters is now organized into six, war fighting functional cells that manage intelligence, maneuvers, fires, sustainment, protection, and command and control. The staff functions match those of the various combat units on Fort Bragg, like the 18th Fires Brigade and 82nd Sustainment Brigade.
New and enhanced capabilities come with the organic, modular design. The headquarters now has a 14-person liaison cell that works at the command and functional levels, a world religions chaplain, its own explosive ordinance disposal staff cell, a personnel recovery cell to plan and coordinate recovery of Soldiers on the battlefield, and other staff able to perform tasks that the corps previously had to rely on other units to perform.
"(These capabilities are) something we always had, but we had to take somebody from another unit to do it. Now we have someone who is dedicated and trained," said Brown.
As part of the transformation, new equipment was fielded and Soldiers were trained on it earlier this year. The new command post platform and center system was fielded in August and Soldiers are still training on the joint network node, a satellite based communications system.
Col. Peter Edmonds, G5, XVIII Abn. Corps said even though the corps is converting to the same modular design that the rest of the Army will use, the corps is still unique based on its capabilities.
"We're a modular force, globally deployable and forcible entry capable and that's what makes us different," said Edmonds.
"There are three corps, but only one of them is airborne capable. We have a jump slot for every person on the corps staff, so everyone is on jump status. We're the only corps that's like that. We have the only division that is airborne capable and of the six airborne infantry brigade combat teams across the Army, four of them are here at Fort Bragg."