Benefits and Problems Associated With Improving the Ratio of U.S. Combat Troops to Military Support Personnel in Europe

LCD-78-408A: Published: Jun 7, 1978. Publicly Released: Jun 7, 1978.

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Among programs to increase the ratio of combat troops to support forces without increasing overall U.S. military forces in Europe is one prescribed by the Nunn Amendment, which requires conversion of headquarters and military support personnel to combat personnel. The Nunn Amendment required a reduction of 18,000 in authorized support personnel in the services in Europe during fiscal years (FY) 1975 and 1976.

Implementation of the amendment caused an increase in U.S. combat forces in Europe and a decrease in the authorized forces for headquarters and support services. Military services reduced support positions in Europe by 18,836, but many of these were merely paper reductions. Total military personnel in Europe actually increased during FY 1975 and 1976 because there were more authorized spaces than people in Europe at the beginning of FY 1975. New combat units were drawn from elements of the Army's force structure. While more combat units and increased manpower provided added capability to meet the threat of a short war, there was a deterioration of some wartime combat support capabilities. Some support reductions have resulted in greater need for increased host-nation support. Noncombat areas omitted from reductions in the amendment were U.S. military community support and noncombat positions at the decision level.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Army in Europe to review community support positions of noncombat positions at the division level to identify those that will have less impact on wartime needs than reductions made under the Nunn Amendment. In considering future legislation dealing with similar changes in military manpower, Congress should require the Secretary to describe expected results with respect to manpower implications for actual as well as authorized manpower levels, cost implications, and impact on combat capability.

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