« Senior Iran cleric hails “Islamic state of Iraq” | Main | "An Expeditionary Army" »

28 August 2005

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

b

Technically I agree with the above (hey, I am an ex-tank officer) on the other side the "new army" may prevent the US from taking on Iran, China and N.Korea.

That may be a good for the world. (BTW: Why is China included in the above "axis of evil"?)

DSK

This is very interesting.

I would add that these changes have taken place within a veritable sea change in military thinking that has also had profound effects on our national defense.

When I first enlisted in the Air Force, it was still still considered the most important branch of the armed forces. We got the best equipment and the most highly intelligent, educated, and self-assertive young enlisted people.

I worked at SAC Headquarters at the 544th Strategic Intelligence Wing at Offut AFB, where it was not uncommon for Staff Sergeants to have at least a B.A. It was clear that field-grade officers managed personnel (normally flying officers who found their way to a desk) and Non-coms and Airmen ran the show on the floor. If the Commander wanted to know something about Communist status of forces, he got up from his desk and walked over and chatted with one of his airmen.

On one occassion I had, what I thought at the time, the honor to brief Daddy Bush on a Soviet airframe rollout. The only question the former chief of the CIA could find to ask me was "Gee, how deep do you think the snow is there?" I used the line that I was taught to use when I didn't know the answer, I said, "I will research that and get back to you sir." I heard chuckling among the Flag-grade officers in the darkened hall before me.

Then the Cold War dissolved and the base became a Joint-Com; a preserve of Naval, Marine, and Army personnel. Esprit de corps fell by the wayside and the Air Force lost most of its prestige. In my field, career oriented NCOs got out. Some got civilian jobs at DIA or NPIC, most just returned to civilian life.

This seems to have been a precursor to changes in the Army that you discuss.

Again, I must admit I remain perplexed. While Saddam, his military capacity crushed in the first Gulf War, was being touted as a great threat as he was supposedly building nuclear weapons (along with the Iranians and the North Koreans), in the real world there remains thousands of nuclear missiles targeting the United States in Russia. Our only defense against this remains a Strategic Air and Naval presence which has been emasculated and marginalized.

To be fair, neither the post VN army, or the new Rumsfeld "Swat Team" army could stop the hordes of North Koreans from crossing the DMZ for more than a few hours.

Such tunnel vision remains the greatest danger of Rumsfeld's proclivity for "modernizing" the Army and American ignorance of strategic realities.


Pat Lang

b

The list is of the "axis of capability," not the "exis of evil." pl

RJJ

"... the effect the ... new force will have on the people of the Army."

If you have any thoughts on the new privateers, I would like to read them.

It looks as if they INTEND to replace the present services with mercenaries to be led by regime loyalists.

They will argue it is a regrettable necessity.


Pat Lang

RJJ

"the new privateers?"

Get a grip!!

PL

avedis

Sounds like the Army is emmulating the Marines; becoming shock troops, masters of the blitz.

All fine and well unless, as you point out, we become engaged in a prolonged conventional war.

Oddly, the Marine Corps role in Iraq is emmulating the traditional role of the Army.

Inter-service politics?

Pat Lang

b

Actually, the UN Command in Korea (US and Koreans) were quite capable of dealing with the North Koreans.

The lightly armed SWAT team Army of Rumsfeld's design could never do that. pl

Pat Lang

avedis

The marines are not "shock troops." They are naval infantry who exist for the purpose of capturing lodgements useful to a naval force. It is difficult to conduct "blitzkrieg" at the marines normal rate of advance which is 2 1/2 miles/hour. "Blitzkrieg" implies high speed armored warfare. They do not do that and never have.

The marines think that they should be withdrawn from combat after the assault phase of an amphibious landing. They were withdrawn after the capture of Baghdad by the 3rd Infantry Division and the marines. This was in accordamce with doctrine. The Army agreed since the marines are not equipped for extended operations in a large land mass.

In Iraq they are commited to extended operations deep in the interior of a large country. They do not exist for that purpose. A shortage of troops has required this commitment in a role for which they are ill suited. pl

b

North Korea:

PL says: "UN Command in Korea (US and Koreans) were quite capable of dealing with the North Koreans."

NYT today says that may change:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/29/international/asia/29korea.html
"U.S. Banks on Technology in Revised Military Plan for a Possible North Korea Conflict"

quote - American commanders are making significant changes in their plans in the event of a military conflict with North Korea, to rely in large measure on a new generation of sensors, smart bombs and high-speed transport ships to deter and, if necessary, counter that unpredictable dictatorship, the senior United States commander in South Korea says. ... The new plans would rely, for example, on being able to move Army units and the service's new Stryker infantry fighting vehicle on C-17 cargo jets from their base at Fort Lewis, Wash., to reinforce South Korea in just 11 hours, General LaPorte said.

High-speed troop transport ships can bring larger numbers of marines from Okinawa in less than a day. Heavy equipment for arriving troops is already positioned in South Korea in climate-controlled warehouses, the general said. - /quote

Jerome Gaskins

I'm just the teenager around the fire here, listening with awe and admiration to my elders, happy and proud to be included in the gathering.

I wonder if the Defense Secretary's "upgrade" process wouldn't benefit from being stretched out and checkpointed, as the base closure process has been, or has always been?

Perhaps a little more governance and transparency would make the Secretariat think thru its plans longer and harder? Provided, of course, that there is no chance for any political party to stack the structure in it's favor.

The primary beneficiary would be the affected service.

avedis

RE: Marines. Yes of course. I can't disagree with you but, I was referring more to the rapid deployment capabilities of the lighter Fleet Marine Corps.

Sorry Col., but the Corps put the Army to shame when they were able to move troops and materiel into Afghanistan -a landlocked country - and establish forward bases there while the Army was still scrathing its collective head trying to work out the logistics of getting from point A to point B.

And such experiences may be at the heart of Rummy's - misguided in my opinion - transformation.

Furthermore, throughout their 230 year history the Marines have frequently and effectively been deployed in counter-insurgency campaigns.

This may be another characteristic that Rumsfeld wants to emmulate in the Army.

There was a time when the term "Blitz" was used by US Marines to describe the type of action they do best, a frontal assault backed by naval guns with small arms at the head of the spear in a campaign of relatively short duration.

ckrisz

Wouldn't a war with China (presumably over Taiwan) be primarily air and naval?

Pat Lang

ck

I was referring to any future war with China not a specific scenario. pl

Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg

Pat-
You mention that the post-Vietnam Army was oriented towards a "family values" group, what effect do you think that the transformation would have on the family lives of Army Soldiers? What effect do you think it would have on the other values you mentioned?

searp

The Marines ran an extended battle experiment about a decade ago where they put a lot of small teams ashore with the job of calling for fires. That was the plan.

I recall hearing that this was a failure - the teams were exposed, more often than not, and chewed up by heavier and more numerous OPFOR.

My point is that if we're essentially revisiting that experiment with the entire Army we will likely regret it.

A question for COL Lang:

To what extent is Rumsfeld being driven to this model by cost? People are vastly expensive in the all-volunteer force.

Pat Lang

searp

Partly cost, partly conceit.

pl

Pat Lang

Alex

The answer will be posted this evening. pl

avedis

"We will be OK so long as we don't fight any enemies who are; numerous, continue fighting for long periods, or have tanks or artillery."

I am going to apologize in advance for going off on a very oblique tangent - and I suppose for anything that might have been taken as inter-service baiting above - but as I read the above quote I starting thinking about another of Rumsfeld's armies; the Iraqi Army.

I know we are supposed to leave Iraq when the Iraqis can provide security for themselves. Who is going to supply the Iraqi Army with the tanks, aircraft, artillery, and other various and critical weapons systems that would provide security internally, but, more importantly from external threats?

I just don't see that happening. Right now it looks like some troops driving around in Toyota pickups with Aks aimed out the back passes for Iraqi armored cavalry.

Do they have Helos?

What about communications systems?

How could we leave the Iraqis vulnerable to external threats like Syria, Iran....?

Who would pay for it all? Who would train? How long would that take?

Maybe this aspect of the US withdrawal plan could be addressed at some future date?

Pat Lang

avedis

This is an excellent suggestion that you make and I will write something on it this week. pat

J Thomas

I'm no expert on these topics. But here is a question.

If it's true that the army is getting divided up into units that can't stand up to heavy or numerous enemies in conventional battle -- planning for what sort of warfare would make that appropriate?

I can imagine answers that I don't have the knowledge to evaluate. For example, if we're going to face enemies who have munitions that are particularly good at hitting targets, then armor does better by being silent and fast than heavy. Don't be where they expect you to be, don't get hit. Because if they hit you, you're disabled anyway.

Similarly, if any big concentration of force by either side is likely to get WMDed, then you want small forces that are very competent and particularly fast. If they decide to WMD you, be somewhere else by the time they attack.

I read about our troops invading iraq, wearing full CBW gear in 95 degree weather because they didn't know that Saddam's WMDs were all gone. We're surely going to see a lot more of that. If our enemies know that playing the game by our rules means they lose every time, they're going to make up their own rules. If we have less of an advantage with WMDs than without, they're going to start using them. So it might be a good time to get ready to win anyway.

Could we have end goals that don't require us to stand up against strong armies? If all the big strong armies are people who already have nukes, maybe we don't want to send expeditionary forces against them. Go after the little guys, and if we can move fast enough then when a big slow army starts chasing us we just zip off to convenient airfields and fly away, leaving nothing behind but destroyed airfields. No, it doesn't sound ideal to me either, but it might be what we can afford. Maybe the days are over that the USA was the only nation that could do strong force projection. Maybe with the new technology nobody can do it. Maybe we beat the chinese if we fight them far enough from their borders, and they beat us if it's too close to their borders, and we just have to stay away from big national armies full of nationalist fanatics on their own turf.

Well, these particular ideas don't sound all that plausible even to me. But my question is, are there circumstances that would make something like Rumsfeld's plan workable? Changes in military technology? Changes in goals? Changes in availability of fuel? I can't predict such things very well, but maybe you can.

Pat Lang

J Thomas

You have a plausble argument, but I really think that what we have here is Rumsfeld the aviator's fascination with airplanes and Gee Whiz equipment and Schoomaker the SOF man's dislike of heavy forces.

These pre-dispositions have been massaged into a structure for conducting war against minimally armed "wogs" and terrorists.

PL

J Thomas

Sir, it is all too plausible that Rumsfeld etc are clueless.

I'm wondering what circumstances would be required to make something like that work. And if we can't get those circumstances, how much can we do with such a force anyway?

I can imagine that with enough extremely-good PGMs a light force might take on at least its numbers in heavier forces. Provided they can get sufficient resupply. Wasn't that an issue in iraq? The public news was reporting we outran the supply chain, like we assumed nobody behind the front would attack our supply convoys. If you move light and fast you need very fast resupply. If you had that, what more would you also need to keep from getting rolled up?

Suppose that Rumsfeld succeeds in demolishing the army's own plans. It seems like he could manage that in 8 years. Somebody will have to take what he leaves us and do the best they can with it.

Pat Lang

J Thomas

You are right. The game will have to be played with the cards available for quite a while.

-Hope for the "right" enemy.

-Pray for enough really good PGMs.

-Hope that a Rommel/Stonewall/Napoleon shows up at the right time and that the system empowers him/her.

NYkrInDC

Don't know if you read Tom Barnett often, but he addresses alot of the issues you bring up in this piece. Here's a sample.

Leviathan's speed versus SysAdmin's thoroughness: the budget debate begins

"Rumsfeld's Push For Speed Fuels Pentagon Dissent: Billions Are Sought for Force To Fight Blitzkrieg War; Critics Cite Iraq Troubles (Who Will Repair the Sewers?)," by Greg Jaffe, Wall Street Journal, 16 May 2005, p. A1.

Great article by always good Jaffe on Rumsfeld's push for speed-speed-speed as the essence of the transformed Leviathan. I agree with Rummy's approach on two levels: tactical speed is an obvious good, because it keeps our people alive in combat. So buy fast platforms (aircraft, ships, vehicles) so our people can move around as rapidly as possible. Operational speed is also key, but there we're into the realm of net-centric warfare more than kinetics or movement of stuff, so it's bytes over bullets.

Where I part with Rumsfeld and side with the recalcitrant Marines and Army is on strategic speed, or this 10-30-30 notion of stopping a military advance in 10 days, then defeating the enemy in another 30 days, and then being ready to do it all over in another 30 days. Simply put, the U.S. has never engaged foes with that sort of rapidity, and there's no clear evidence that we'll ever need or want to react that fast. Because if we're reacting that fast, we're reacting alone, and the Leviathan needs more justification than just Washington's firm decision to act. Without lining up the process that marries the SysAdmin follow-on force to the Leviathan's power application, we get Iraq after Iraq: easy first-half victories followed by slogging second-half efforts where casualties pile up, allies peel away, and we end up looking more imperial than sysadmin in our bodyguarding of globalization's advance.

The Army and the Marines are right: there needs to be budgetary balancing here, and to the extent a bias is revealed with time, it should accrue funds to the labor-intensive SysAdmin force, not the capital-intensive Leviathan, which has no peers on its horizon-all fantasies about China pushed aside by a cooler, more logical, and more utilitarian assessment of globalization and the international security environment it spawns.

The 10-30-30 looks like the Air Force and Navy trying to hog transformation over the long run, claiming the bulk of the budgetary pie, when in reality the Iraq occupation proves that transformation must shift from the air to the ground if we're going to become serious about shrinking the Gap and winning this Global War on Terrorism.

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001803.html

The Leviathan's Squeezed, but the SysAdmin Bleeds


"A New Workhorse's Heavy Load: Nine-Nation Jet Fighter Project Runs Over Budget and Faces Cutbacks," by Leslie Wayne, New York Times, 27 April 2005, p. C1.

"Bloodied Marines Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men," by Michael Moss, New York Times, 25 April 2005, p. A1.

"stuff is rarely the main difference between life and death. How you use it is. That's what the military calls tactics, techniques and procedures, or TTP. You provide the best armor in the world and He will eventually figure some other way to screw you over: by piercing it, going around it, whatever. Point being: the "stuff" alone is never what's wanting. There is never enough gear, there is only enough adjustments and innovation in tactics, techniques and procedures.

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001736.html

Pat Lang

NY

An over-itellectualization of a process that never goes as planned and which requires vast reserve stores of energy and manpower to cope with unpredictability.

This reminds me of the nonsense that used to be spouted by the "operations research" and "systems analysis" whiz kids who were sure that they could "game" the North Vietnamese into submission. pl

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

August 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          
Blog powered by Typepad