Medium Formations - The Standard Infantry Division The fundamental Army tactical formation, the Infantry Division, has been nelgected in Western Armies for some time now, and the PLA has shed, and continues to shed, many more of them. The Russians did away with them entirely back in the 1950's (committed as they were to a concept of mobile offensive warfare). The US Army has replaced its traditional standard Infantry Division composed of 3 Infantry Brigades (with organic wheeled transportation), a brigade of towed Medium (155mm) Artillery, a battalion each of MBTs, Field Engineers, Cavalry/Reconnaissance, and Anti-Aircraft Artillery, along with sufficient APCs to mechanize one of its infantry battalions, with the Infantry Division (Light). The Infantry Division (Light) has 3 Light Infantry Brigades (little or no organic wheeled trasportation and little in the way of medium or heavy ATGMs), a brigade of towed Light (105mm)Artillery, no tanks or APCs, and a battalion each of Field Engineers, Cavalry/Reconnaissance, and Light Anti-Aircraft Artillery. The rational for converting the medium standard infantry divisions into light infantry divisions was to improve their deployability. But the resulting organization and equipment of the light infantry divisions has left them unable to deal with any but the lightest enemy opposition without substantial reinforcement and "heavying-up" with units attached form Army Corps-level. This observation was made by Michael W. Miller in "The Light Infantry Division: Essential Component of National Defense or Cold War Relic?": http://handle.dtic/mil/100.2/ADA370320 Since the URL doesn't appear to be working, Google to DTIC, and enter the title in the DTIC search-box. The light Infantry Divisions were originally designed for rapid-deployment to the Near East oilfields in the event of a crisis or war there. None were used for such in either the First Gulf War in 1991, or for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In Somalia, the rifle company from the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), which pulled off the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" rescue of the Rangers and Delta Force in Mogadishu, had to be mounted in Malaysian Army APCs and reinforced with a platoon of Pakistani Army MBTs in order to fight their way in and out. Even in the 1989-1990 invasion of Panama, in which the 7th Infantry Division (Light) was deployed, tanks, vehicles, and helicopters from the brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) also present had to be attached to the 7th Division's units in order to carry out its own missions. The Light Infantry Divisions possess no organic tanks (not even light) or APCs, little wheeled transportation to move troops or supplies around where needed most, and only light artillery. The 105mm shell has long been considered to be good for suppression, but lacking killing power, especially against enemy armour. The 155mm shell possesses good killing power, allowing dug-in standard infantry divisions, along with their greater numbers of medium- and heavy-ATGMs and modest numbers of MBTs and APCs to fend off enemy Armour, at least for a while, or at least inflicting heavy losses on said. As is, the archetypal Light Infantry Formation, the Airborne Division, specially organized and equipped for rapid-deployment anytime, anywhere, should be capable of handling the Light Division role. The 82nd Airborne Division, not the Light Infantry Divisions, was sent to Saudi Arabia in 1990 to buy time in the event of an Iraqi invasion, and it was somewhat better-armed and equipped than the Light Infantry Divisions that were specifically created fior this very same mission. Whatever the doubts about the Airborne's ability to fend off Heavy Formations (like Armoured Divisions), it was clear the Light Infantry Divisions were not up to the job they were created for. Miller makes this clear in his monograph, noting that the Army Corps-level attachments that Light Infantry Divisions were permitted to have in order to carry out their tasks effectively transformed them back into a traditional Medium Formation, namely, the standard Infantry Division. Instead, Miller argues for the return of the standard Infantry Division, a Medium Formation that is fully capable of offensive operations with its own organic forces in any except a high-intensity, mechanized war while capable of effective defensive operations in any kind of warfare, and yet is far easier to deploy quickly than a Heavy Formation such as an Armoured or Mechanized Infantry Division. He envisages the standard Infantry Division in high-intensity mechanized warfare as holding ground while the Armoured Divisions are thereupon released to engage in decisive offensive or mobile defensive operations. The standard Infantry Division normally can fully engage in offensive and defensive operations in low- to medium-intensity warfare. Incidently, the US Marine Divisions are organized and equipped as standard Infantry Divisions (albeit with additional specialized training and equipment for amphibious operations). In Desert Shield, the 82nd Airborne was soon joined by the 1st Marine Division, and later the 2nd Marine Division, greatly strengthening the defence agsinst any hypothetical Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia in the summer and fall of 1990 prior to the arrival of the US Army's Armoured and Mechanized Infantry Divisions in strength. In both Desert Storm in 1991 and the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq in 2003, the Marine Divisions were instrumental in destroying Iraqi Formations and clearing cities such as Fallujah. Existing US Army Heavy Formations lacked sufficient infantry to do the latter, while Light Formations such as the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) lacked the MBTs and APCs to allow them to survive and clear fortified areas in cities. The Marines, having plentiful infantry as well as Medium Artillery and modest amounts of MBTS and APCs, have been used to clear some of the most dangerous areas in Iraq. The PLA retains standard Infantry Divisions, albeit with a full Tank Regiment (3 Battalions) instead of just one Tank Battalion, but as it seeks to modernise, it is shedding the majority of them. If the US experience is any indication, this may be a bad idea if the reductions go to far.