If the Cold War escalated into a conventional WW3 in the mid eighties, how might the various involved powers (most interested in the US) go about standing up new divisions?
How long would it take?
Where would the equipment come from?
Most importantly, where would the personnel come from? Obviously the bulk of said formations can come from newly inducted draftees, but the officers, NCOs and technical specialists needed to form an effective unit take years of training and/or experience to make.
I'd like to say I know but I have only speculation. For the Americans, Equipment: could come from the divisional sets at US bases. Full loads of soldiers would fly to Germany to meet POMCUS gear so there you have enough gear and ammo for new divisions. It won't be easy but it is doable. Personnel: could come from many sources. Many officers/NCOs/specialists will be on courses and not assigned a post. There are recent retirees who will need minimal refresher training, maybe none. There were a lot of unassigned reservists too. Getting everyone together, working as a team, is the hard part though.
Best guess would be six months to a year. It could be theoretically possible to raise new divisions faster, but the initial focus will be on casualty replacements for units deployed to Germany and bringing National Guard and Reserve formations to full strength prior to deployment. After that, the US can begin to think about reactivating some divisions. How long it takes will depend on what kind of division they're activating. For instance, an Armored Division will take longer to raise than Mechanized Infantry one, which will take longer to raise than a Light Infantry Division.
As for personnel, the military will begin recalling recently discharged soldier, sailors, airmen and Marines to active duty. When you enlist into the military, you sign an eight year contract. Usually split 4 years active/4 years inactive reserve, but subject to recall. So that's several hundred thousand personnel right there. And officers can be recalled until the day they die (example: at the height of the Iraq War, the US Army recalled to active duty a Colonel in his SEVENTIES that retired when REAGAN was President because he had a skill set that he's needed).
Equipment, well, WW3 would essentially be a "run what you brung," war. Modern military equipment takes too long to build, and a conventional WW3 was expected to be over rapidly enough, that neither side could expect much in the way of new units or equipment. However, in the eighties, the US was manufacturing about 500 M1 Abrams a year. I don't really know how much more capacity the US has to build more then. But judging by how rapidly manufacturers today were able to convert their factories to other products, I'd say the US should be able to crank out at least 1,500-2,000 Abrams a year. That's more than enough to provide attrition replacements and new units. Plus there are THOUSANDS of tanks in storage in the desert. Mainly M60 Pattons. They're old, but they can still be at least an even match against the Soviet tanks.
I think the key question is how long the war lasts. Seems pretty certain that NATO would either have to go nuclear or accept the loss of at least W Germany and probably adjacent areas. Simply because of the sheer lack of stamina of the in position NATO forces because of lack of supplies plus the probable fact that at least some nations would delay moblising for political reasons. Say NATO doesn't go nuclear and France makes some sort of deal signing an armistice to prevent Soviet occupation because of Paris's threat to use nukes. Moscow may think of that as a victory and look for a quick peace based around the new status quo but what if NATO says no and manages to hold say most of Italy, Britain and possibly parts of Norway - if Sweden is able to secure its neutrality. [Not sure what would happen with Greece-Turkey or elsewhere in the world.
If the rump NATO decides to fight on and Britain and Italy can hold out, possibly also with Iberia being a NATO base there is the potential for a multiple year massive conflict - but still largely conventional/chemical. The west once moblised would have the technology and probably numbers to take on the Soviets and their satallites but it would be a huge fight and you could see the west assembling mass armies similar to what the Soviets have. In that case expect conscription - which very likely means I'm caught up in it at some stage - and a real bloodbath before some sort of new stability is achieved/agreed. Still the danger of it going nuclear if either side decide their losing too badly or simply does something stupid.
insert quote here1555 x M-60 5775 x M-60A1 540 x M-60A2 1500 x M-60A3 300 x M-1 Abrams 400 x M-551 Sheridan 12300 x M-113 1100 x M-901 400 x M-2/M-3 2959 x Self Prop. How. M-109A1/A2/A3, M-110 68 x MLRS