Hotrod is a self described National Guard soldier. I will say the following to him (her or it), You win the prize. (so far) This is great stuff. Someone else has remembered that MacGragor was mentioned in depatches by Ricks or Gordon as having recommended an invasion with a few hundred armored vehicles. Seems like we should be humming a few bars of the "Panzer Lied" at the thought. pl
"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 mov ie – 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." Hotrod