CAMP ROBERTS, Calif. — The Army wants to see how a pared-down light infantry division will respond to a small conflict. So it has launched a two-week training exercise in Central California called Celtic Cross IV.
Infantry troops from Ft. Ord were deployed this week by Air Force planes and a truck convoy to Camp Roberts, 30 miles north of San Luis Obispo, said Capt. John Driggers, a spokesman for the exercise.
"The initial portion of the exercise was just deployment and to see how the division moves," Driggers said. About 22,000 soldiers, including 1,600 Army reservists and 750 National Guard troops are taking part in the maneuvers.
The Army plans to modify four regular infantry divisions into so-called light divisions by removing support equipment, such as trucks and jeeps, said Rodger Murphy, an Army spokesman at Ft. Ord.
Instead of 18,000 troops, a light infantry division has 10,700 soldiers, who move on foot.
The chief advantage is that a light division requires only about 550 planeloads instead of 1,500 to deliver the division and its equipment from a staging area to a battlefront.
"Once they're on the ground, they move primarily by night and the emphasis is on small-unit tactics," Driggers said.
The first regular division to be modified is the new 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Ft. Ord. Three other regular infantry divisions and a National Guard unit also will be stripped down, he said.
"The lessons learned from this certification will end up being the blueprint for all five light divisions," Driggers said.
Driggers said the exercise involves a fictitious country known as Lusada, which has asked for U.S. military help because of trouble caused by what he described as an unstable relationship with Zapita, a neighboring country.
Most of the maneuvers will take place at Camp Hunter Liggett, a nearby Army training base, where the war game is intended to escalate from a small fight to what Driggers called "a moderate-intensity conflict."
However, Driggers said, "The scenario is absolutely fictitious. We're not testing a tactical plan. We're looking at whether the structure we've planned for the light division--the recipe, if you will--works. We're just checking to make sure we've got the right mix of personnel and equipment."