WASHINGTON — The Army, in "a major shift in American Army thinking," will begin assigning combat soldiers by units rather than individually to boost morale, foster loyalty and improve fighting ability, senior officers said today.
The change will keep combat soldiers in the same unit from the time they are trained through their deployment overseas and afterwards in a concept based on the theory that troops who stay together will fight better because they care about each other.
"This is a major shift in American Army thinking" because the emphasis previously has been on the individual, not units, said Lt. Gen. Robert Elton, deputy chief of staff for personnel.
The Army chief of staff, Gen. John Wickham, approved the change Oct. 2. It is expected initially to affect 600 companies in armored, mechanized, infantry, artillery, air defense and engineering units by the year 2000, the service said. It would affect about 90,000 soldiers, based on an average of 150 men in each company.