Army’s plan to retire V Corps delayed a year
June 5, 2009
HEIDELBERG, Germany — V Corps has been given a reprieve.
The Army had planned to retire Victory Corps — its nickname since World War I — in mid-July. But the service announced Thursday that it needs a bit more time to assess the impact of doing away with the unit, which traces its lineage to the Civil War.
Over the last several months there have been second thoughts of inactivating the V Corps headquarters in Heidelberg, at least enough to convince Pentagon officials to step back and reconsider, according to Army officials. At issue is whether the military would be better served having four active-duty Army corps or three: The Heidelberg unit is the only forward-deployed corps in the U.S. Army and is part of a rotation involving similar units that train, equip, certify, staff and deploy forces for missions, be it war or peacekeeping.
The postponement is for one year.
The pause will “let the Army sort out how many corps it may need” in the future, said Gen. Carter Ham, commander of 7th Army and U.S. Army Europe.
“A corps is better suited to be an operational headquarters,” Ham said last week.
The Army news release announcing the delay said a corps headquarters “is the primary organization synchronizing the operations of Army, Joint and Coalition forces within its designated area of responsibility.”
V Corps has twice led Multi-National Corps-Iraq, the tactical command unit in charge of operations in Iraq.
“This action is part of a larger effort to relieve the extraordinary demands being placed on Corps Headquarters, which has reduced ‘dwell time’ to unacceptably low levels,” the release said.
One concern is if V Corps goes away, what fills the void, and, furthermore, would it meet the Army’s needs? Under the plan announced last year, V Corps and USAREUR, its parent organization, would go away and parts of both headquarters would merge to form the nucleus of a newly constituted 7th Army Headquarters, which is destined for Wiesbaden.
“If you don’t have a corps, then what?” asked Lt. Gen. Kenneth Hunzeker, the current V Corps commander. “That’s the question.”
Nearly 800 soldiers are currently assigned to USAREUR and V Corps headquarters. But under them are an array of units scattered across Europe, from the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy, to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Katterbach, Germany, as well as the 1st Armored Division.
As recently as two months ago, there were more than 5,000 V Corps troops serving in Iraq.
Hunzeker said a town hall meeting is scheduled for Monday in Heidelberg to address the decision announced by Secretary of the Army Pete Geren.
To the average soldier, the decision to take a second look at inactivating V Corps “is not going to change their life much,” Hunzeker said.
The reassessment coincides with the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Review, which is now in progress. That report should be finished early next year, Hunzeker said.
Both Hunzeker and Ham said the V Corps review would not change 7th Army’s move from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden, slated to occur over the next several years.