This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. The 28th Infantry Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard suffered near collapse in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest in November 1944 but recovered in time to delay a German force eight times its size in the Battle of the Bulge just four weeks later. This analysis looked at how the Division was able to recover by analyzing it as a system set in a larger systemic context. The research showed that the individual replacement system, despite its reputation, ultimately enabled the foundation for the Division's rapid reconstitution by; improving the average replacement soldier's physical and mental quality, their level of individual training, and providing them when requested and in sufficient numbers. Also, due to the unique nature of the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest and the Division's resilient structure, headquarters elements at battalion and above, supporting units, and core groups of veterans in the infantry companies provided continuity that enabled reconstitution. In addition, during the four-week recovery period, leaders at all levels rebuilt teamwork by strengthening the effectiveness of leadership, conducting progressive training, and working holistically to raise soldier morale. More broadly, the Iron Division's example shows that many of the conditions for success or failure in a future war may already be set. The Army and nation must look holistically at how current systems tie back to the broader national moral and physical capabilities. Quality, training, and morale of soldiers will always be critical to maintaining the cohesion and thus effectiveness of units engaged in combat, and when they falter, it requires a holistic effort, with sufficient time and space to fix it.
After leaving the Hurtgen, the 28th Inf. Div. was broken and needed repair. Simply replacing lost personnel and equipment did not accomplish this. At the time, the Army had no formal name for what the unit required, but today the military calls it unit reconstitution. In this document, the term reconstitution refers to a process undertaken by commanders and staff of degraded units to assess its level of deterioration; attempt to fix it by reorganizing internally; and when unable, moving to a quiet location to undertake regeneration of lost force structure (soldiers and equipment), preferably with outside help. For the 28th Inf. Div., the success of its reconstitution depended greatly on the foundation provided by the quality of the Army's replacement system.