Tomorrow’s US Army?

Soldier Here are a few interesting pieces of business to give you some idea of where the US Army may be going in the next years. 

Colonel MacGregor is an interesting thinker but it is reported (to me)that he advised the Bush Administration (OVP) in 2002 that the US invasion force could be sized at two armored brigades.  (I am willing to be told that this is not true)

The family of vehicles planned in "Future Combat Systems" is a long way off in any "timeline."  As MacGregor implies, the idea that the future will be filled with more 4th generation wars of counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism is a debatable analysis.  To gamble all on a force structure made up of light forces and commandos is a big, big gamble.

This week in Washington, The Association of the US Army (AUSA) held its convention.  At that convention the Chief of Staff said that 20 years of conflict are anticipated by the Army.  That is bad news for an army that is still wedded to the concept of soldiers as middle class married men with young families.  A succession of pious, middle class uniformed leaders created that ideal for America’s army after the Vietnam War.  People in today’s army are expected to conduct themselves socially like small town Americans.  Drinking, smoking, sexual adventure are all severely sanctioned even in combat zones.  Where is the "safety valve" for these guys?  A set of mores of that type is not feasible in an army that lives at war in far flung places with often repeated and protracted combat tours.  My active duty friends tell me that the "middle class" army is already breaking down as a form.   Divorce, family dissolution and other symptoms abound.  A different kind of army will emerge from the meat grinder.  The marines?  I know nothing of them.

The Chief of Staff also said that the National Guard and Army Reserve must be maintained as vital parts of the structure.  I will leave it to you, gentle reader, to comment on that before I give my view.  pl

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34 Responses to Tomorrow’s US Army?

  1. The Army has done an appalling job of explaining FCS. Ignore the overhyped high-tech: In fact, many elements of an FCS brigade would be HEAVIER and better armored than their counterparts in a current force heavy mech brigade. The FCS vehicles are now 30 tons, so the Bradleys are replaced with something of equivalent weight but with hybrid-electric drive and a 50% larger squad in the back; the M113 variants and M109s are replaced with something considerably more survivable; and the only element of the force that is actually replaced by something lighter under FCS is the M1 Abrams — except that the Army plans to keep units of M1s around until 2030 at least.
    My article on this subject is available at

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    If only it were tomorrow that the Army would have FCS rather than at some distant future date. But, alas, that stuff is WAY down the road.
    Until then, we will have a lot of warmed over 4th generation dogma and whatever equipment that can be saved from the wreckage of the present.
    Get my point now? pl

  3. Publius says:

    I actually worked a lot on some of the emerging—and highly classified—technologies that are key to FCS. Sydney Freedberg is correct in that the current scheme involves much heavier vehicles than was the case ten years ago. Probably because even Army generals can finally understand that the laws of physics are immutable. But still there is the problem of the tank, regarding which the answer still seems to involve Star Trek in some fashion.
    Mr. Freedberg is also correct about the Army’s poor job of explaining FCS. This may be attributable to briefers’ attempting to stifle giggles about what has been, unfortunately way too much of a Rube Goldbergish-scheme for the “premier” Army on the planet.
    IMO, COL Lang is correct in his assessment of the issues involved should the Army and national policy makers buy into the whole 4GW canard and make irrevocable decisions about the shape of the ground forces. Modernization of heavier military vehicles is needed. But one truly must wonder whether the same Army that’s come up with armored jeeps and a multi-billion dollar effort to combat IEDs in lieu of beefing up human intelligence is the right Army to pull FCS off. One also wonders what FCS will ultimately cost and whether the Chinese have enough money to pay for it.
    Lang, you and I are of the same generation. I, too, worry considerably about the sociological makeup of today’s Army. They call ’em “warriors,” yet they expect them to act like 9-5 office workers. You were undoubtedly better behaved than I was, but the reality is that the military is a tough and often bizarre occupation; expecting soldiers to act as if they are in middle-class America kind of belies the history of armies. Or any other occupation that spends a lot of time away from home doing strange things.
    I don’t know. Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe one can successfully put together an career expeditionary military of guys who in another life would be working in some insurance company somewhere. Or maybe it’s cognitive dissonance on the part of the leadership. Time will tell. I do know I wouldn’t want to be in this Army. The one I was in was way too much fun.

  4. Robert C says:

    The CoS thinks “20 years of conflict are anticipated by the army”, a rather self-serving statement. Who will start these conflicts? Perhaps the USA? Will they be as “necessary” as was invading Iraq? How many LTs and Capts are chomping at the bit to make there name in a new conflict? How much of this “20 years” of conflict will truly serve US vital interests, as opposed to the interest of the Pentagon/Military-industrial complex? Welcome to a military state.

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    On occasion I was as badly behaved as they should be. pl

  6. spanielboy says:

    In regards to the National Guard and Reserves in the mix, what has really changed in the last few years by the policy makers to continue to be used as operational units instead of strategic reserves? The other facet not mentioned is the continuing use of privatized companies to support the various missions – need men to do things that the military is already too stretched to do on its own.
    As for the breakdown in the ‘middle class’ portion of the US military, it is just a cause and effect of the cavalier attitudes by the politicians, policy makers, media pundits, and senior military leaders. The decision to go into Iraq was just too flippant to what had to be done to meet the goals – unless the goal was to not make the hard decisions and trust ‘hope’ and ‘luck’ would come to our rescue. Those who Dr. Bacevich labels as the pro-military group to set foreign policy seem to be doing much more harm than good – send the boys out but not without the support to do the mission correctly (instead we play ‘whack-a-mole’ because a lack of resources and private companies are running through the battle space without supervision and observation). To top it off, an approximate 95% of the nation doesn’t know, understand, care, or grasp to what is required to do the job – it is far easier to go to the mall and watch teevee instead.
    It seems the US Army has met its recruiting goals again – no doubt there are fine and outstanding persons in that group. There are questions to whether as a whole they measure up to the standards of the AVF before the insurgency conflicts in the Middle East. There are those who find the negatives to re-install the draft outweigh the positives, but one must ask if the current course of large bonuses and slipping standards really helping?

  7. Cold War Zoomie says:

    It must be boring being a 1st Shirt nowadays. Who is there left to punish?

  8. josephdietrich says:

    On the last point, I’m not quite clear on what the Chief of Staff means by this. If he is saying that we are going to throw the home guard and the reserves into the operations as a matter of course, then it seems to me that there is something wrong with our policy and strategy. That, or these forces are poorly named.

  9. Steve says:

    In the past 30 or so years, American society itself has become more pious/puritanical in many ways, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Army reflects that as well.

  10. Jose says:

    IMHO, FCS is an expensive overkill for the GWOT.
    If the neocons want an empire, go back to the 16-18 division Army and put enough troops on the ground to surge throughout Iraq not just the Sunni areas.
    As for the middle class values and standards, has anyone in here serve in Korea or Germany?

  11. Abu Sinan says:

    Cold War,
    Having worked hand in hand with the US military in the last decade I can tell you there are still a lot of people to punish.
    Granted, in my time with the DoD I worked mostly with the AF, but in my last three years abroad we had airmen prosecuted for child pornography, adultery, rape, drunken driving, theft, AWOL and almost everything else one can think of.
    Those are just the people I knew about and was aware of, and this being airmen, often accused of being much less “warrior like” and much more 9-5 button pressing office types.
    I saw what deployments did to families then, and that was pre-9/11. I can only imagine what it does now. Divorce rates were high then, I am sure they are through the roof now.
    Maybe “what goes TDY, stays TDY” gets the soldiers and marines in less trouble in Iraq because there are not the local women available to get into trouble with, just their female co-workers, and there has been a spike in sexual assaults for women on deployment.

  12. Brian Hart says:

    How many recruiting posters are needed to offset the sorry treatment of the Minnesota National Guard last week?
    As to FCS, how many resources – time, money, manpower – can be diverted from reality with this program? A program perfectly designed by lobbyists, by big contractors pocketing $20 billion assigned to it and by retiring generals. It does little or nothing for basic infantrymen who needed body armor, retrofit armor, armored vehicles, tourniquets, blood clotting agents and enough freaking bullets to sustain an offensive. These simple, dirty prosaic items lack the glory and profits necessary for a successful defense program like FCS.
    So while we prepare to win a fantasy war in the next decade against a fictional enemy, we go about losing the war we are in. Reality bites, but if you don’t give a damned you can just ignore it – unless your an infantryman in Iraq or Afghanistan.
    I would suggest a more effective strategy for planning technology spirals would require that items: 1. Cost less than existing items in mass production. 2. Perform better and 3. Be available in under 2 years. Some might say this is fantasy, but it works quite well – its why soldiers use hand radios they buy at Walmart from Motorola instead of FCS shit. Its why UAVs fly meaningful missions and Ospreys don’t. Its why WWI produced a revolution in aircraft and why WWII produced massive improvements in quality and quantities of aircraft, radios, electronics, tanks, etc….
    Programs that take longer than WWII to fight should be immediately suspect.

  13. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Don’t confuse present requirements with the long term neccessity of force planning and creation for the geo-strategic situation of the United States for the remainder of the century. Both present reality and long term needs must be met.
    As for people’s behavior on TDY and punishments for that, your view of these malefactions as serious is a sign of the age. Rape, murder, child molestation are real crimes. Boozing, chasing skirts, adultery, etc., are not in the same league and as Publius and I both know were formerly not thought of as major impediments to service if they did not interfere with performance of duty.
    Is that so now? pl

  14. Jose says:

    I posted about increasing the size of the Army but found this article that changed my mind:
    So there is no way to increasing the Army because of shortages in even the officer ranks.
    What a mess.
    Marines Generals are smart to request Afghanistan (popular war) and getting out of Iraq (unpopular war).

  15. Cold War Zoomie says:

    I was jokingly referring more to the lighter offenses like getting thrown into the drunk tank at the local lockup. I’m still doing the DOD “thang” and the stories from both Army and AF guys is that the Holy Rollers have changed everything. It’s just anecdotal from a few folks, but sounds like the days of closing the club at 1:45, stumbling back to the barracks, passing out around 3am after a few more nightcaps, and dragging ass “up the hill” at 6:30 are over.
    This reminds me of one Tech Sergeant who got completely blotto at the Rod & Gun club every Friday afternoon and early evening. He was riding his bike everywhere ever since he had decided to park his car in a 6 foot deep ditch one evening off post (in the UK) where the local police confirmed that he had had a wee bit too much to drink. After a few hours of libations, he’d call the Blue Light Taxi Service and the SPs would drive him back to his base housing. That was the base commander’s policy – call the SPs if you were too drunk to get home! Granted, that was on a very small base but I just cannot believe that would be allowed nowadays.
    Back then, about the only way to get a drunk on station charge was to pass out in the middle of a street between the club and the barracks. Or crawling on your hands and knees in view of the SPs.
    If the AF was like that back in my day, the Army posts must have been bedlam on the weekends.

  16. Cold War Zoomie says:

    On a more serious note, the FCS scares the crap out of me. It requires soldiers to rely on a very complex suite of technologies that have a lot of “moving parts.” As a networking person, the use of “ad-hoc” networking where these machines and soldiers roam in and out of networks seems like a disaster waiting to happen.
    Here’s an example of what happens when we rely on technology too much. Last week I used GPS for the first time while driving. Rather than paying attention to where I was actually going, mentally marking direction and street names, I just allowed the machine to do it for me. Road construction in the area forced the system to keep recalculating my route every time I hit a blocked road. Many times it would try to turn me back around to exactly where the problem was. I had to force it to stop me from going in circles.
    The KISS principle appears to be dead and gone with FCS.

  17. VietnamVet says:

    You can deep six this comment as economic determinism but the Army, best portrayed by John Ford in “Fort Apache”, was built of blue collar families, adventures, a few misfits, far too many martinet officers and never enough Colonel Langs.
    Today’s Army is no doubt different than the blue collar middle class outfit I observed of almost 40 years ago that was trying to deal with alienated draftees and a never ending war. Since then the working class in the USA has taken it on the chin and from an outsider’s perspective has turned reactionary and religious at the same time.
    In every war there are Profiteers crawling around making money off of death and corruption. Iraq is the first American war where contractors outnumber the troops. Adventurers are now hiring themselves out to million dollar CEO War Profiteers. The Suckers signed up to drive trucks out of Kuwait. All enabled by the White House & Congress. All on the taxpayer’s dollar.
    The future of the USA and the Army will be played out in the next decades to determine if the State can regain control of its war making organizations or if the USA reverts to the Medieval Mad Max world of private armies.

  18. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Col Lang’s post actually covers quite a lot of topics. My last thought concerns the NG and Reserves.
    Return these guys to their roots as reserve forces. If we need more troops, then increase the size of the active duty forces. Better yet, restart that draft. That way, any civilian bozo who wants to play Churchill will have to convince *everyone* to sacrifice. No exceptions.
    Yes, I’ve heard the arguments that an all-volunteer force is better. Of course, we had a draft during WWII and won it. Maybe the real problem with an Army full of draftees only becomes apparent when they are expected to fight unnecessary wars.

  19. Steve says:

    I take it you don’t care much for William S. Lind.
    I will say that WSL comes off as rather pompus in his writings. Maybe this is why the Quantico 4th GW crowd likes him so much.

  20. rebel07 says:

    IMHO, whether or not we should reinstate the draft is not the issue. The issue is whether or not we should still be in Iraq and Afghanistan. The draft worked in WWII because we had been attacked on our own soil and the country was prepared to defend itself. The wars of today are wars of choice, not necessary for our survival.
    The US Armed Forces would have no problems with numbers if being in Iraq and Afghanistan were necessary for our survival. Americans would sign up in droves if they felt our survival was at stake. I think most people see these wars as unnecessary. Unless we are talking about keeping control of the oil flow. Which may be necessary for our survival but shouldn’t the American people be the ones who decide such things, not idealogues behind the scenes pulling the puppet strings.
    If we were not fighting in the ME, we wouldn’t have to talk about a draft, but since it does not look as though we will be leaving anytime soon, then the topic must be addressed. Though our survival was not in jeopardy before we went in, now that we have been there, it may now be. The decision makers may have created our downfall where one did not exist in the first place.

  21. Binh says:

    I still don’t understand the obsession with lighter, leaner, and “lethaler” that is associated with FCS and more broadly with what’s known as the “Revolution In Military Affairs” that was heavily pushed by Rummy back when he was SecDef. It’s my understanding that FCS was based on a lot of the ideas and doctrines of RIMA (correct me if I’m wrong).
    I especially don’t understand the anti-heavy armor bias. If you want to be a whole generation or two ahead of the Russians/Chinese/X-state then you’d better have weapons that can take the kind of punch they can pack today.
    I would like to see what the Colonel thinks (no rush) about the above topics which are related somewhat to the substance of his post.
    Also, weren’t some of the ideas between the RIMA and FCS tested in the Millennium War games in 2002 when Paul Van Riper wiped the floor with the new doctrines?

  22. China Hand says:

    I do not think that the mores currently affecting the military are any more or less adverse in that environment than in the greater U.S. cultural space.
    The wisest move would be to prepare both FCS and 4GW capabilities, but even then institutional reform is badly neede.
    The U.S. is currently the big man on the block; any country that wants to dodge U.S. interests — and in light of recent Neo-con policy, that would be virtually all of them – is going to need to prepare to defend against the U.S. military.
    I think the only effective approach would be for the U.S. to re-evaluate its political and cultural strategies from the very foundations. In my opinion, the era of claiming U.S. interests are threatened by the daily business of distant states is over.
    The only time the U.S. should be abroad is with wide, unambiguous international consent. While I don’t think the U.S. should unconditionally hop to the demands of the UN I nevertheless believe that with its wealth and status there is no justification for military actions in support of merely economic objectives.
    The military should be reconceived as a strictly defensive force (as in: the U.S. mainland). Defense is much easier, much cheaper, and utterly unobjectionable. Institute a draft. Stop sending the army out to defend corporate profits. If the oil starts to run out then for goodness’ sake don’t ship out muscle and bullets to procure more — get that ol’ ingenuity working.
    We need more small businesses, more independent research, strict limits on the police (“homeland security”??!?!), better healthcare, fewer prisoners, more evenly-distributed wealth and a heavy pruning of our criminal and business laws.
    Finally, I agree that our military leaders seem more like the CEO’s of large corporations than anything else. But I also disagree: the military is not remarkable — nor any more remarkably afflicted — in that respect.
    I would hope that retired military leaders would take a more active role in provoking a discussion of these issues. Hopefully they would be much less fearless about confronting the difficulties and encouraging creative solutions.
    Current discussions — such as I’ve seen — seem to still center on the “world’s policeman” model. That road, I am certain, will lead only to misery and shame.

  23. Walrus says:

    “The U.S. needs a new national military strategy, a strategy designed to enhance America’s role as the world’s engine of prosperity, making the American way of life attractive, not threatening, to others.”
    This quote from Col. Douglas MacGregor (Ret.)is in my opinion, the understatement of the decade.
    FCS, by the way, reminds me of nothing more than my SCUBA diving equipment, designed to keep me totally and completely insulated from a hostile environment and supplied with the necessities of life (ie: Air).
    How can one play “Hearts and Minds” counterinsurgency without getting out of your tank?
    Can a remote sensor and a round from an over the horizon Cannon tell the difference between a shepherd boy and an insurgent?
    To put it in ways that simple folk can understand, remember the first episode of Star Wars? Who got the sympathy vote? The storm troopers or the Jedi knights and rebels?
    I’d put the money into education, new army boots and minimalist equipment that allowed me to walk and talk with the general population of war zones as if I was one of them.
    Talking about democracy from inside a tank doesn’t work.

  24. DaveGood says:

    I don’t know where the figure of twenty billion for FCS came from but that has to be wrong.
    The USA right now is spending 20 billion on buying up all the MRAP’s it can, which by and large are nothing more then trucks built to a thirty year old South African design with armour bolted on, or variations thereof.
    And apparently these MRAP’s are NOT regarded as the replacement vehicle for the twenty year old Humvee, Incidentally…. the fully upgraded hummer now costs the USA Taxpayer around 200,000 dollars a pop, as compared to the 31,000 it cost in 2001.
    So that’s twenty billion spent on assets America intends to toss away as soon as the real Humvee replacement comes on line.)
    I’ve heard the FCS described as 60 technologies bundled together only one of which has been proved to work.
    Ignoring the economic arguement as too whether the USA has the wealth to actually fund The FCS… I’d point out the development of one vehicle alone has cost over twenty billion, taken twenty five years so far and killed thirty people working on it… and that’s the Osprey.

  25. Ryan says:

    I distinctly remember that it was Richard Perle who said two armored brigades could take Iraq. I wish I still had the original source for this.
    I also remember Paul Wolfowitz is said to have proposed that the 101st AB should vertically envelople Baghdad, prior to the war.
    These worthies should congregate in Wolfie’s old office and contemplate the painting “The Sunken Road” from Sharpsburg fame that Wolfie had over his desk.

  26. What Are We Going To Do About TheArmy?

    Pat Lang details a serious concern for the social structure and fabric of the post-Iraq Army:
    This week in Washington, The Association of the US Army (AUSA) held its convention.  At that convention the Chief of Staff said that 20 years of con…

  27. hotrod says:

    MacGregor seems like a smart guy. I read Breaking the Phalanx, and have the other one sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting. That said, I never quite know what to make of him. One second he’ll be pushing some really clever idea re
    reorging the brigade into battlegroups, then the next he’s being used by Rumsfeld\Gingrich (an anecdote from either
    Fiasco or Cobra II) to justify a small force in Iraq. I’m not insisting that he pigeonhole himself – but I’m not sure he’s good at consistently advocating his views.
    FCS – as a junior, reserve component officer, I’m not particularly experienced on the military side of the house – but on the civilian side I’m a pretty good, pretty experienced, technology guy. The following is sometimes hard to communicate, but I feel like I need to try, so here I go

    It would be difficult to overstate how much the pitch for FCS sounds and smells like the pitch for a large scale, massively complex software implementation (think ERP) that everyone knows is doomed to failure, but for different reasons (to different people), won’t be cancelled until it absolutely blows up in everybody’s face.

    The Army is honorably concerned about recapitalizing the force, and somewhat less honorably concerned about keeping it’s slice of the pie. So the Army came up with ideas it couldn’t implement, manage, or even fully understand, and they hired Boeing. Boeing has done it’s part for the shareholders and the triangle. Congress will eventually pull the plug, though probably in the form of a restructuring – and everyone got rich in the meantime. The shame of it
    is – the Army went for the Air Force school of procurement, “system of systems” instead of incremental ideas that
    help troopers and commanders at every level. They did the incremental thing too – but hastily, tacked on, and thrown in downrange.
    FCS has a lot of really clever, doable individual ideas – but Big Army insists that it adds up to some sort of video game vision of warfare. Let me be clear – I’m not “in the know”. I’m not privy to anything classified re the
    project – but I’ve been convinced for a long time that I don’t need to be. The “vision” of FCS depends not on incremental improvements in command and control, but on a level of situational awareness that is fundamentally unachievable in the fog of war. COL (then LTC) McMaster described this better than I ever could in “CRACK IN THE FOUNDATION: Defense Transformation and the Underlying Assumption of Dominant Knowledge in Future War”. But even if
    I’m wrong about the big, Clausewitzian issues – FCS still depends on what amounts to, in my mind, a bunch of lightly armored ground versions of JSTARS or AWACS – in the mud, commanded by an exhausted 25 yr old E6, PMCSd by a scared, tired, hungry 19 year old E3. The one potentially saving grace – FCS has been so poorly defined and described that it would be easier to shift fire towards those incremental improvements and away from the boondoggle than it might be in another project.
    Rebel07 – I’ve never really liked the “war of choice\necessity” formulation, but even if I accept it – Afghanistan
    was a war of choice? Really?
    Regarding 4GW – I’m not a huge fan of Lind, though I find him interesting on a reasonably consistent basis. That said, I’ve never understood why people get quite so worked up one way or another about the whole concept. Look at it this way – it’s an intellectual construct, the same as “bipolar world” – an imperfect term used to describe the Cold War. I still remember my post cold war poli sci texts twisting themselves into knots trying to reinvent “bipolar” as “multipolar” or “unipolar multi-variant” or whatever. An intellectual construct is useful as long as it clarifies more than it distorts, and the “4GW” description of non-state actors and forces becoming more consequential strikes me as somewhat clarifying, though probably less so than “bipolar world”. If you disagree – don’t use it. “Insurgency” or “Population Centric” works also. I will say that Lind tends to discount analysis
    that runs contrary to the concept, but he’s hardly the only one guilty of that sin.
    Re: Future Threats – it’s well and good to talk about saving the Army for the big one – massive state on state conflict – but does it really seem that likely – especially now? COL Henry Foresman, a product of a undergraduate
    education that was as equally flawed as COL Lang’s and my own, makes the point that, to paraphrase, the Army has
    spent 80% of it’s existance fighting small wars, rather than big ones. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t hedge our bets, and training for the “graduate school of warfare” implies picking up a Bachelors somewhere along the way. But it strikes me that it’s more likely that we could build a force that could do both than we could magically recover the mindset and training five, ten years down the line. The Brits and Marines seem okay at it, though probably not as good as they think they are. And to everyone that thinks that some sort of neo-isolationism will keep us out of trouble – you don’t have to think that Iraq was a great idea to realize that we tend to stumble into\onto these
    situations. Somalia and Afghanistan weren’t planned, and I doubt Darfur\Pakistan\Nigeria\Cuba, or wherever else will be either. No, I don’t want to invade any of those places – but the time is going to come that both sides of the aisle think that some sort of intervention is a great idea – then what?
    COL Lang and Publius touch on a good point – a soldier, particularly an active duty one, doesn’t really have much of a life anymore – at least not in the sense of get up, go to work, come home, spend time with the wife and\or kids,
    go to bed, repeat year after year, with PT and the occasional NTC rotation thrown in. Divorce is up, retention is down. What that changes the Army into – I don’t know. Most here will be unsurprised to hear that Joe and Jane Snuffy didn’t magically turn into alter-boys and girls during the 80s. I’m Baptist, and was raised in a very conservative evangelical church. I’m always a little amused to hear someone from the church idealize a trooper, who’s probably at home on Sunday, in bed, likely not alone, nursing a hangover. In the near term – Unless that trooper gets a DUI, behaves recklessly, hurts someone, does something to jeopardize a clearance, etc, no one is likely to mess with him. Now there is a little bit of a zero defects mentality, and stuff makes its way onto paper faster than it used to – but I’m not sure that means the Army is a hotbed of Puritanism. With all that – what does the Army become when most everyone has a social life straight out of a John Ford movie – ask me when I’m smarter.
    CWZ, I understand you’re trying to make a point, but the formulation of “send draftees to war while the reserves stay home” has been tried – I’m told it didn’t go so well. I personally think the “operational reserve” mode is preferable to the deep, profoundly unready, “strategic reserve” model. It’s not really new – mobilizations were up
    all through the 90s for the Balkans, and the Air Guard has been active for a long time running. Iraq could end today (it won’t), and you’d still need the reserve component to support Afghanistan, Dijibouti, and lots of other places. Oh, you wouldn’t need the manuever brigades, and the mobilizations would come down – but they wouldn’t stop.
    I’m biased – I’m a reserve component soldier, and though I don’t have a burning desire to get shot at, I wouldn’t have joined a force of sandbag fillers either. The Guard and Reserve do have some work to do – but for what my anecdotal experience is worth – the National Guard I serve in today has nothing in common with the Guard I joined a few years ago. Professionalism, competance, and all around seriousness are heads and shoulders above what they
    were. If anyone formed an opinion of the Guard back in, say, the 80s or early 90s, you’re welcome to visit. It’s not perfect – a Guard\Reserve unit will never be as good at, for example, brigade (even batt) level maneuver, complex logistics, etc etc etc. They can’t be, irrespective of professionalism, given the time issue, and professional schooling will always be tough. But in a small unit war, Big Army needs the numbers, and to a lesser degree, the civilian skills, of the Guard. If you’d rather draft guys, CWZ, well by all means – shout it from the rooftops.

  28. Carmel Davis says:

    Re. Macgregor, see Gordon and Trainor, Cobra II, pp. 33-35. Gingrich was on DPB, knew Rumsfeld was frustrated with proposed force levels and asked Macgregor for plan; Macgregor provided plan on NY eve 2002 that called for 342 tanks and 400 Bradleys.

  29. DaveGood says:

    Not yet read or seen anything written by MacGregor yet.
    Just some reviews, some quotes, and some paraphrasing.
    SO what I’m about to say may well be unfair.
    But if what I have read is an accurate reflection of his thoughts, opinions and input. I think, for the sake of troop morale, we ought to print everything he has ever written into one book and ensure every soldier posted to the Mideast has a copy.
    On the other hand, supplying real toilet paper would be better.

  30. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Julius Epstein — one of America’s most courageous artists in my opinion — did a brilliant job in his film adaptation of Cross of Iron, and his adaptation may speak to some of the issues raised here, especially as he portrayed the hero — Sgt. Steiner. The film adaptation has an extraordinary moral equilibrium. If you recall, Sgt. Steiner after suffering a wound, found himself in the sheets with one beautiful German nurse. He then had a decision to make — continue to shack up with the (married) nurse or return to the frontline with his men. He chose spiritual brotherhood. And the director (Peckinpah) drove home the significance of that decision, if I recall correctly, by immediately have a image of a dead soldier being run over by convoy trucks.
    But despite the fact Sgt. Steiner was unmarried, he took a stand against pornography and particularly rape. When his platoon came across the Soviet peasant women (who incidentally all looked like Milan models — which was probably true through the eyes of the soldiers), Sgt. Steiner allowed street justice to take place to avenge the rape committed by one of his men.
    I don’t think Sgt. Steiner had a “middle class” approach to life. But you sure wanted him as your platoon leader.
    While we are at it, Abu G. would have never happened with the likes of Sgt. Steiner around. Remember the Russian boy who was captured? Steiner refused to allow the character Stransky to murder the kid. Stransky wanted to murder the kid to prove that he was a brave soldier worthy of the Cross of Iron. Ah yes…Stransky. Does Stransky represent the character type of the neoconservatives? Methinks so.

  31. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Excellent article that popped up during research on command and control. Touches on complex systems:
    Operational Command and Control in the Information Age
    “While proponents of information warfare claim that their goal is furthering decentralized decisionmaking on all levels, the trend is in the opposite direction…Friction and the fog of war are inherent in combat. Advanced information technologies can reduce uncertainty but not eliminate it. The more complex the technological innovation, the higher the friction. Technology is only a means to an end, not an end in itself.”

  32. Vincente says:

    I’m not sure whether to put this here or on the draft issue, as they are tangentially related, but here goes. I’m sorry I am late to the discussion.
    Trying to look at simple cause and effect, in re: the US Army and the military as a whole, it seems clear to me.. as a civilian no less, but one who deals with the military culture at least on a superficial level.. that the ‘cultural’ makeup of the military has been undergoing a profound shift in the last 10 to 15 years (I would trace it to around the time of the first Gulf War.. perhaps earlier; some commenters here may have a better peg on this).
    Why? Well, in deference to Occam’s Razor, the end of the Cold War had huge implications for force structure. Take a look at a map of active duty installations across the CONUS from, say 1989, then look at one from today (post BRAC). See a trend? For example, the Air Force is completely gone from the Northeast and large swaths of the midwest. It has solidified and consolidated its presence in the Southeast and West.
    I think costs have something to do with this, but also the realities of politics intrude (as BRAC is a political exercise if I have ever seen one). The result of this, as a friend pointed out to me, is that large segments of the country have little to no contact or community interaction with members of the military (save for the National Guard). This is not a good thing for the Republic, in my opinion.
    Instead, the all-volunteer active military seems to be consolidating around its core ‘constituency’: the scots-irish of the American South and segments of other regions. Not only do you have the strong cultural support and tradition of military service, you also have a far larger fundamentalist christan element at play – witness the sharp increase in evangelical flag officers through the ranks (I’ve had former military comment to me about this several times), and sometimes it leads to cultural clash (see the brouhaha at the AF academy a few years back).
    Combine this with the other interesting development of the last few years (I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this one, col.) — the decline of ROTC programs in urban cores. The Wall Street Journal had a great piece on this not too long ago. Due to the costs and ‘political realities’ of many urban centers, ROTC programs are closing their doors and sometimes being chased out (witness the disgraceful treatment displayed by San Francisco politicians last year toward one of the city’s last remaining programs… and I am a proud booster of that fine city) by witless tools who have no understanding about what role the program plays in people’s lives.
    This exacerbates the cultural shift: fewer urban kids given the choice of involvement in military service, further perpetuating a deepening cultural gulf between the American people and the people who serve us.
    It’s not healthy for our Republic, and I honestly think that its time we had a frank discussion about national service in America as one part of addressing this. But that, as they say, is another story..

  33. Basic organizational honesty destroyed the Army in RVN and isolated the vets from the nation. I keep hearing reports that the American public does not get accurate information about the war in Iraq. I also wonder if the troops, many of them hitting second and third rotations, accurately obtain information about the public and its attitudes towards the fighting in Iraq. This basic equation will determine the future of the Army and the nation. It is extremely important that neither side of the equation be isolated from reality. In the Army I served in freedom of speech was tolerated. Is it now? Same for the general public? We are a representative government purportedly of educated people who understand fully the issues and the consequences of choices. The US Army has always been a peoples army and its courage and fortitude is a sign of the strength of the country. We win when we are committed to the cause, and now the only question is what cause are we committed to? Are we committed only to be a class ridden cafe society unwilling to defend its culture like Europe?

  34. Cold War Zoomie says:

    While the DARPA crowd thinks up FCS, soldiers think of this:
    Silly String
    “Shriver’s Silly String campaign began late last year after her son, Todd, a soldier in Ramadi slated to leave Iraq in November, asked his parents to send cans of the product.
    Soldiers can shoot the substance, which travels about 10-12 feet, across a room before entering. If it hangs in the air, that indicates a possible trip wire.”

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