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Structuring the Army properly for the future
Posted by: McQ on Monday, February 13, 2006

Larry Korb, asst. Sec Def under Reagan, isn't all that impressed with the findings of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) as it pertains to the Army. He feels the Army is presently dangerously stretched and needs to be larger. I share his view. While it's not broken at this point, it can't sustain this present effort in Iraq indefinitely. And, given this is most likely the type missions the Army will face in the near and distant future, it's something which warrants examination.

Korb's point:
Yet, rather than expanding the Army, the QDR actually calls for reducing it to its pre-2001 level of 480,000 people.

The Pentagon's civilian leadership tries to disguise this reduction by noting that it will be increasing the number of special forces by 15 percent, or 7,800 people; the number of troops assigned to psychological warfare and civil affairs units by one-third, or 3,700 people; and the number of combat brigades from 33 to 42. While all the steps are necessary, they are not sufficient.
Reshuffling the mix but keeping the end strength at the same or lower levels is a recipe for failure and, in my opinion, ignores the fact that, in light of present deployments, the Army is unsustainable at this level:
If the number of soldiers is reduced, the troops will not get to spend sufficient time at home before being sent back to the combat zone, and the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve will continue to be overused. To put it bluntly, in this long war there's no substitute for boots on the ground. And in a counterinsurgency campaign, numbers are as important as capabilities. Our efforts in Iraq continue to suffer from the failure to put enough troops on the ground following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Presently, we have 1/3 of the Army going to Iraq, 1/3 returning from Iraq and 1/3 training to go. We can not do that indefinitely at the force level we now have. We simply need more troops in the Army. And the heavy reliance on reserve and National Guard troops will eventually degrade them to the point of becoming a hollow force. This is not what guard and reserve soldiers sign up to do, and recent recruiting numbers for reserve forces speak to that truth.

So why is the Army being kept at this level? Korb give what I contend is the obvious and expected answer. Institutional inertia:
But the real reason the Pentagon resists adding troops is that it would cost money, and in this budget-constrained environment, adding troops to the Army would force the Pentagon to cancel cherished programs such as the F/A 22 or the DD(X) destroyer, which deal with threats from a bygone era, and slow down the deployment of the untested National Missile Defense system and reduce the number of unnecessary strategic nuclear weapons significantly.

But the QDR did not cancel a single weapons system or reduce the number of strategic weapons. In the fiscal 2007 defense budget, funding for these new weapons increased by more than $6 billion, and spending on nuclear forces will be close to $20 billion.
For all its talk about preparing for future war, the Pentagon is engaged in a very expensive program to fight adversaries who no longer exist. That's not to say that it isn't important to continue our research and development of future conventional weapons platforms and systems, but as I said in my piece a week or so ago, just not as many of them as we're presently considering deploying:
[W]e probably don’t need as much of the technology as we presently have. For instance, we probably need fewer fighter wings, fewer bomber wings and a smaller navy than we presently have … less of the big ticket items which are so costly to build and maintain.
That, of course, frees dollars within the defense budget to be spent on expanding those boots on the ground Korb says we desparately need to face future conflicts of an unconventional type:
Since every 10,000 troops added to the Army would cost about $1.5 billion, the QDR proposal for increasing the size of the special forces and psychological warfare and civil affairs units, and keeping the Army end strength at its current level of 490,000 troops, would add some $3 billion to the Army budget. But even these increases are not enough.
So expanding the force from 490,000 to 590,000 would cost the DoD 15 billion dollars ... a proverbial drop in the bucket when it comes to defense spending. With that size force you can fight an "Iraq" and have a contigency force available to fight another conflict. And that amount could be taken directly from a couple of wings of F/A 22s or a DD(X) or three.

As I said in my piece, a lot of that increased force structure should go into Special Forces and Civilian Military Operations:
First, of course, we’re going to need a bigger Special Operations Force. That includes all services, but primarily Army. It’s where the bulk of the SOF forces now lay and it is also where the bulk of the unconventional experience is as well. We’re looking at perhaps double the size of the force we now have.
Korb is of a like mind:
The special operations and psychological warfare and civil affairs forces should be doubled, and two peacekeeping and stabilization divisions should be added, bringing the Army end strength to 575,000. This size Army would come at an annual additional cost of $11 billion, money that can easily be found in the procurement account.
Absolutely dead on in my estimation (although I'd take the number to 590,000). If we're committed to the WoT and recognize that it will be a long war, building a sustainable Army to face such as task isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. The present QDR fails, in that regard, to address that necessity. Hopefully the Pentagon will relook it's plans and address this concern swiftly and properly or we are going to face a crisis within our Army (both active and reserve) in the not too distant future.

Korb concludes:
The Pentagon is right that this will be a long war. But if the Army, which does the vast majority of the actual fighting in this war, breaks, we cannot win. Our technological superiority is not enough to guarantee that our forces will prevail in battle and in securing the peace.
Precisely.
 
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While I tend to agree with you regarding end strength, and note that had we begun the process right after 9/11 we would have the first fully functional new units already coming on line, I think you give the Pentagon too little credit. The problem with the sustainability of the troop levels in Iraq is the number of combat brigades. If the number of combat brigades in increased, and the number of, say, Pentagon lawyers and budget analysts and the like reduced, then more units are available for rotation and the sustainability problem is solved. Thus, the Pentagon is not as self-evidently wrong as you make the case to be.

I think that where they are wrong is that we cannot do two occupations at once: we can do an occupation and fight a theater war to win at the same time (as long as we have a couple of rebuilding years afterwards), but we can’t occupy Iraq and Iran or Iraq and Syria at the same time. At this point, if we have to break a country, we have to leave it broken, because we’re busy trying to fix Iraq. That is just creating another failed state and inviting the terrorists in.
 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
The problem with the sustainability of the troop levels in Iraq is the number of combat brigades.
And that’s addressed by Korb when he points out that the plan increases:
the number of combat brigades from 33 to 42. While all the steps are necessary, they are not sufficient.
I agree with his conclusion. While an improvement, it isn’t enough. Add to that what I believe to be an absolute necessity, doubling SOF, to do what you point too next:
I think that where they are wrong is that we cannot do two occupations at once: we can do an occupation and fight a theater war to win at the same time (as long as we have a couple of rebuilding years afterwards), but we can’t occupy Iraq and Iran or Iraq and Syria at the same time.
That’s why, in my piece, I called for a two different missions split between the conventional side of the house (fight the war) and the unconventional side of the house (do an occupation). It is a radical change, but one, I think, must be made.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Korb is of a like mind:
The special operations and psychological warfare and civil affairs forces should be doubled, and two peacekeeping and stabilization divisions should be added, bringing the Army end strength to 575,000. This size Army would come at an annual additional cost of $11 billion, money that can easily be found in the procurement account
.
WHAT??? We can’t DOUBLE the SpecOps and Psychological warfare troops. Well we could IF we were willing to be deceptive. We could:
1) Leave the SpecOp’s numbers constant and INCREASE the Psychological Op’s strength, thereby increasing SOCom end strength.
2) Increase the support staff of SOCom, increasing end strenghth
3) Lower standards for the SpecOps combat forces and INCREASE the end strength of SOCom
4) Some mixture of the above.

What we can NOT do is increase the number of Rangers, Special Forces and the dreaded Special Operations Detachment Delta AND increase the Psychological Warfare troops. It takes YEARS to develope an "operator", years of selection and training and then a number of years as an entry level troop to become a fully-trained and combat-ready operator. Plus, there are only a LIMITED number of folks who CAN be operators, and of them only a few really want to be operators.

It’s like talking of "doubling" the size of the US Olympic Team. You can do it, but at a cost to standards or by book-keeping measures that APPEAR to increse the end-strength, but the number of Olympic-level athletes or folks who wish to be Rangers, Green Berets (Sorry, but to me they will ALWAYS be Green Berets-thank Robin Moore for that)or Delta-Force is rather small and one is not likely to "double" their numbers any time soon.

As to Peace-Keeping/Peace-Making/SASO Divisions that is NOT going to happen. This is the same aregument from previous, a Conventional Warfare Force and the Peace-Keeping Force. We can’t afford that level of expense and specialization. The 1st Infantry Division is NOT going to become a specialized force for policing Iraq or Haiti. It might perform that/those mission(s) but it will also retain it’s combat mission, too. Yes, some generals and possibly some Divisional Headquarters may specialize. I believe that the 48th Infantry Division (NG) deployed tot he Balkans to command operations there. BUT, the line troops that make up a division will be drawn from the General Purpose Land Combat FOrces, that make up the US Army and USMC. Battalions will rotate thru specialized training for the specific mission, but the US isn’t going to field COMPLETE TO&E units tailored for SASO missions. That for reasons of cost and flexibility. The US can’t afford to create divisons that can really only accomplish one thing and I believe the second we do we will end up regreting it. I think that the SASO units will end up being committed to Combat Operations and suffer disproportionate losses OR the US Army will discover that its force structure is TOO SMALL to complete combat operations, because the US Army has only 8 COMBAT divisions. Sorry the US Army is not likely to increase to 12 divisions, any time soon.

And I don’t think that the US Army is likely to increase to 500,000, much less 575,00 or 590,000 troops any time soon. Troops cost money and the Army’s share of the budget is relatively fixed and an increae in TROOP STRENGTH is an increase on a limited budget, either Procurement or Operations and Maintenance will suffer. That is ASSUMING you could recruit the extra 95,000 to 110,000 troops posited.

Lastly, DD(X) or F-22 may not be the what the ARMY wants, but that doesn’t mean the US doesn’t need them. So whilst I’m all for looking at the programs closely I am also for looking at them OBJECTIVELY, too. The Army and the Marines, NEED an Air Force and they need a Navy. If the US loses the Air-Sea fight or the AIR portion of the Air-Land fight, all the grtound troops in the world aren’t go to make up the difference.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
What we can NOT do is increase the number of Rangers, Special Forces and the dreaded Special Operations Detachment Delta AND increase the Psychological Warfare troops. It takes YEARS to develope an "operator", years of selection and training and then a number of years as an entry level troop to become a fully-trained and combat-ready operator. Plus, there are only a LIMITED number of folks who CAN be operators, and of them only a few really want to be operators.
No kidding Joe ... which is why I noted in my piece that there is no time like the present to begin the task:
And since special operators don’t grow on trees, we better begin looking now and training our best. We’d also better be prepared to pay them what they’re worth to the civilian world since it is among our special operators that security firms like those we see operating in Iraq and other parts of the world are going to recruit.
Joe:
It’s like talking of "doubling" the size of the US Olympic Team. You can do it, but at a cost to standards or by book-keeping measures that APPEAR to increse the end-strength, but the number of Olympic-level athletes or folks who wish to be Rangers, Green Berets (Sorry, but to me they will ALWAYS be Green Berets-thank Robin Moore for that)or Delta-Force is rather small and one is not likely to "double" their numbers any time soon.
That’s always the excuse for not trying. I simply reject it. It can indeed be done, espcially in a nation of 300 million. So instead of claiming what isn’t in evidence, why not take a good look at the problem, anticipate the obstacles to accomoplishing the goal and go to work on it?

My guess is a much more extensive interagency recruiting and screening effort within the Army would lead us to many of those we’d like to see in SOF making the jump.
I think that the SASO units will end up being committed to Combat Operations and suffer disproportionate losses OR the US Army will discover that its force structure is TOO SMALL to complete combat operations, because the US Army has only 8 COMBAT divisions. Sorry the US Army is not likely to increase to 12 divisions, any time soon.
No, the plan is 10, almost 11. And nothing says that SOF doesn’t have a conventional role. In fact I speak to that point in my article. Nor is there anything which precludes a conventional role in an unconventional environment.
Lastly, DD(X) or F-22 may not be the what the ARMY wants, but that doesn’t mean the US doesn’t need them.
I didn’t say anything about not "needing" them. I said we don’t need as many as we think we do. That’s an entirely different point.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
McQ I realize you served and I haven’t, but I still stand by the analogy of the Olympic Team, for one thing. There are only so many folks who WILL BE in the operating end of SOCom. To double the size of SOCom’s combat forces means doubling the size of the force or the US population. Operational Detachments Alpha are understrength NOW. We are having troubling keeping the CURRENT force-level, much less increasing it.

And whilst I don’t see the US Armed Forces as broken or Hollow the reality is that the US Armed Forces are about as big as their going to be, given the current external situation and recruitment/pay situation. Yes, we CAN increase the US Army’s strength by 95,000 to 110,000 people IF:
1) the external security situation deteriorates, the "Remember Pearl Harbour" Syndrome; or
2) the pay and bonuses are SIGNIFICANTLY increased, i.e., the US Army starts offering massive bonuses and pay as compared tot eh other services.

To achieve your goal of end-strength is going to cost more than a FEW DD(X)’s or F-22’s, it will kill the programs. Because the US Armed Forces will become the US Army and US Marine Corps... short version. Longer version would involve a discussion of the impact of INCREASED funding for these two services, in terms of pay and recruitment incentives, on the other services.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
McQ I realize you served and I haven’t, but I still stand by the analogy of the Olympic Team, for one thing. There are only so many folks who WILL BE in the operating end of SOCom. To double the size of SOCom’s combat forces means doubling the size of the force or the US population. Operational Detachments Alpha are understrength NOW. We are having troubling keeping the CURRENT force-level, much less increasing it
.

And I simply reject the point out of hand. Olympic athelets compete against athletes of similar abilities. That’s not the case with our SOF in an insurgency. It’s a style of warfare we’re talking about, not the level of competition.

Secondly, I remember when, during VN, the Army made Ranger School mandatory for all regular army combat arms officers (instead of just volunteers). The standards weren’t lowered, the wash out rate was much higher, but they qualified a much larger number of officers than they ever had previously (among them, me). And those officers, whether they went to elite units or not, took that training and those leadership skills with them.

There’s nothing magic about SOF. They are elite mostly because of their mentality, their will and their desire. They develop their techniques and abilities through training. You’ll find the same types you want in SOF running fire teams, squads and platoons in the 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd ID. The elite of the elite become D-boys (and that’s an internal SOC screening of all services SOF).

Not only can it be done, it must be done if we’re to actually prepare for future conflict.
the pay and bonuses are SIGNIFICANTLY increased, i.e., the US Army starts offering massive bonuses and pay as compared tot eh other services.
This is an absolute necessity as I noted above.
To achieve your goal of end-strength is going to cost more than a FEW DD(X)’s or F-22’s, it will kill the programs.
No it won’t Joe. Do the math. Those programs, even if I get everything I desire, are in no jeopardy of being killed because of that.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
There’s nothing magic about SOF. They are elite mostly because of their mentality, their will and their desire.
Exactly, and there are only a limted number of folks mentality and desire will carry them onto SOF. And Ranger School is NOT SOF, from many accounts. RIP of the 75th is tough and the requirement for entry, Ranger School comes later. I guess we’ll just have to disagree about the number of folks available for Rangers and on up...
That’s not the case with our SOF in an insurgency. It’s a style of warfare we’re talking about, not the level of competition.
Here you are talking about lowering standards... Green Berets were elite in Vietnam and they are elite today, it IS about the quality of the personnel, not simply the nature of the combat. Not everyone is cut out for the job.

And I do NOT see where you’re going to get the extra 95,000 troops you posit. Saying it’s "necessary" isn’t an answer. No more so than listing objections as excuses... The Armed Forces are making their numbers, but I don’t see how they’re going to make the numbers you propose.

 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
There are thousands of additional individuals capable of performing at SOCOM standards already in the military. We don’t need to lower standards to get them to switch.
Things like that are often handled by merely allowing people in one specialty to switch to SOCOM if they succeed in the training program. Currently, I wouldn’t be let out of my current job to go to Spec-Ops, but I certainly could meet and exceed all SOCOM standards for mental ability, physical ability, emotional stability, etc.
Meaning, our Spec-Ops are the best of those who tried, not of the entire military. They stand out because of training, not because of initial, untrained ability.

Coupla other thoughts: We’ve already reduced a slight amount in Iraq, and word is that there will be a bunch of Iraqi forces fully on-line for self-protection soon. So if we can draw down by 50k troops within 18 months, we’d ease the stress on the Army (and Air Force!) more quickly than if we tried to expand the Army by 50k, right?

Plus, this online opinion magazine often takes President Bush to task for not doing more to reign in spending. You pundits do focus (correctly) on the social entitlement program spending most times, but there are times when all you note is the end dollar amount. We would actually be in good shape if it weren’t for vastly increased military spending since 9/11. Now here you are calling for even greater military spending, which would make our fiscal situation far, far worse. While that could be paid for by cutting social entitlement spending, I don’t think that’s going to happen in the current political climate, and so that basic problem needs to get resolved: do you want decreased spending regardless of the impact on military readiness, or do you want increased military readiness regardless on the impact of the federal budget? TANSTAAFL.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
Exactly, and there are only a limted number of folks mentality and desire will carry them onto SOF.
Not really. And that’s the point which was illustrated by my Ranger School example. There are a great number of them already in the service.
And Ranger School is NOT SOF, from many accounts.
Having been involved in both (as a student in one and a trainer in the other) both take the same sort of mentality and drive to complete. Both are tough. But both have different focuses tactically. However many soldiers have successfully completed both schools.

In terms of physical stress, I believe Ranger School is much harder than SF school. SF school, otoh, has a lot of classroom work which is very specific and students are held to a very high level of achievement. The washout rates in both, I believe, are comparable.
RIP of the 75th is tough and the requirement for entry, Ranger School comes later.
RIP only gets the soldier ready to attend Ranger School. What was found is that junior enlisted soldiers simply do not have the tactical foundation necessary to plug right into Ranger School and succeed. So they go through RIP first to lay that foundation.
I guess we’ll just have to disagree about the number of folks available for Rangers and on up...
I guess we will. And if you believe we couldn’t put a second regiment of rangers together, well, I’m just not sure what to say. We could, if we chose too, put two more together.

This is eminently doable and very necessary, your negative comments not withstanding.
And I do NOT see where you’re going to get the extra 95,000 troops you posit.
Right where I said we would previously ... among the conventional units in the Army.

This is a volunteer force. They’re already highly motivated and have more desire than soldiers you’d find in a conscription army. All have volunteered once, and some, more than once (airborne units for instance), so it’s not a matter of a shortage of candidates. It’s the will to make it happen that is lacking at the moment. And naysaying without trying isn’t very useful in that regard.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Meaning, our Spec-Ops are the best of those who tried, not of the entire military. They stand out because of training, not because of initial, untrained ability.
Exactly. What you want is a willing student with the drive, intellect and mentality it takes to survive in a special operations enviroment. You’ll teach him what he needs to know to become one of the elite. There are a ton of young men out there that fit that initial profile. We just need to expand the opportunity for them to make the jump.
So if we can draw down by 50k troops within 18 months, we’d ease the stress on the Army (and Air Force!) more quickly than if we tried to expand the Army by 50k, right?
Agreed, but that’s not really my point. I’m talking about the post-Iraq Army ... the one which will fight future wars with the possiblity of a conventional and unconventional scenario happening simultaneously.
We would actually be in good shape if it weren’t for vastly increased military spending since 9/11. Now here you are calling for even greater military spending, which would make our fiscal situation far, far worse.
Defense spending is a constitutionally mandated priority and expense. I challenge you to find the same mandate for spending on various and sundry "social programs".

And, if we don’t do what is necessary for our defense, social spending becomes a bit of a moot point, doesn’t it? You have to be around to spend someone elses money, don’t you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
@Nathan

Actually, he was talking about taking all of the money needed for these programs out of current military programs that are not as important or do not need to be funded to the level they currently are. This would not increase military spending, merely reallocate the existing spending.

If you want to argue that isn’t a realistic idea, as Joe is, by all means, I don’t know the numbers that well. However, McQ was very clear about getting the money from other existing military programs and he had specific examples of where to get it (F-22, DD(X), Missile Defence).
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
I stand corrected, and withdraw the question. I’m sorry I missed the post-Iraq stipulation. Your points are much clearer in light of that. I guess I gotta go back and work on reading comprehension ability, again.

However, I’d like to clarify that I’m not in favor of social entitlement spending. My word choice should indicate that. I’m just cynical/resigned to the fact of it, at least the forseeable future.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
The Army’s position, as I have read it is, that by the time the extra troops would be ready, assuming that they could be found in the first place, the NEED for them in Iraq will be evaporating, along with the excess funding for the War in Iraq. Leaving the Army with several thousand terribly expensive soldiers, with a reduced mission and far less funds than the Army feels necessary to sustain them.

The answer is not a 575,000 man peacetime Army but a reasonably quick drawdown in Iraq.

Oh McQ in my Alzheimer’s state I meant to comment on one of your comments. You mentioned the cost to the reserves of the long-term usage. At one level I’d agree, the OVER-use of the Guard and Reserves is a bad thing, yet at another I am loathe to see the "Golden Handshake" of the 1970’s over-turned. The War on Terror and the Post-9/11 World have been made what they are by the Total FOrce committment of the 1970’s. I see benefits to both sides from it.

George Bush does have to worry about reservists, they vote. The 19 y.o. volunteers in the 1st ID may not, but the members of the 148th Infantry Brigade sure do and so do their relatives. And that imposes a political cost on deployments and war decisions. By making the Active Forces dependent on teh reserves, as you well know having served your 30 years, it makes it difficult to wage war without the reserves and therefore makes it less likely that a Presidnet will engage in Vietnam’s. And that was the point of the agreement, from the Active Forces viewpoint. They were not going to be left holding the bag again.

And from the reserve standpoint, it’s been good for them as military units. They have a mission. They are not a refuge fromt he Draft, they aren’t a politcal/social club, they are being deployed and people are really trying to kill them. It has meant they take their jobs seriously and that they are getting modern equipment, for a change. And that’s good for them too. The 36th National Guard took HORRIFIC losses in Italy, becasue it was not ready for combat... less likely today, the Guard is being blooded. And in the long-run that’s good for them. When they thought of themselves as a social club, "playing soldier" they didn’t take themselves too seriously and when they DID get deployed bad things could happen. That’s a lot less likely now.

So I’m not sure changing the nature of the force structure is a good iea, for the US, for the Active Forces or the reserves.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The Army’s position, as I have read it is, that by the time the extra troops would be ready, assuming that they could be found in the first place, the NEED for them in Iraq will be evaporating, along with the excess funding for the War in Iraq. Leaving the Army with several thousand terribly expensive soldiers, with a reduced mission and far less funds than the Army feels necessary to sustain them.
If that’s their take, then they’re mistaken, Joe.

This is about the QDR ... the future. And, that is what I see necessary for the future if and when we’re faced with a similar scenario as Iraq and the possibility of a more conventional scenario elsewhere. And yes, that means maintaining a fairly expensive peacetime army capable of plugging into both scenarios.

If we’re at all serious about not fighting the last war again next time and making the same mistakes that is.
The War on Terror and the Post-9/11 World have been made what they are by the Total FOrce committment of the 1970’s. I see benefits to both sides from it.
It’s more of a structual problem than a total force problem Joe. You don’t stick all your CS and CSS in reserves and then expect them to pull pitch for every small deployment you have on the active side because you’ve failed to keep any (or enough)AC CS and CSS units to support even the smallest deployment.

You structure your reserves to pick up the slack on major and extended depolyments ... a war of more than a few months. What’s happened for years is everytime we’ve deployed AC units we’ve been forced to deploy reserve units to support them. The erosion in the reserve forces started long before Iraq.

That’s just stupid misuse of reserve forces and needs to be fixed.
So I’m not sure changing the nature of the force structure is a good iea, for the US, for the Active Forces or the reserves.
Reservists don’t mind deployments when necessary to support the total force in a major engagement. They join knowing that may be necessary. But if they’d have wanted to be full time soldiers they wouldn’t have joined the reserve.

And I’m sorry but I have no patience with those who argue "this is a good way to ensure the executive doesn’t commit us to things he shouldn’t". I’m more interested in fighting force that has trained together and thus is the most efficient and effective force on the battlefield, not some cobbled together "total force" in which some units have never seen the other units, have no idea of how they operate, have a problem synchronizing with the op tempo of the combat units they support and thus can’t give them the support they need in a timely manner.

While that may all sound wonderful when one talks of politics, as with most ivory tower nonsense, it doesn’t necessarly translate well on the ground where it has to work or people die.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
While that may all sound wonderful when one talks of politics, as with most ivory tower nonsense, it doesn’t necessarly translate well on the ground where it has to work or people die.

Well all I can say is that this was created by THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY, the late Creighton Abrams, after his tour of command in Vietnam. Apparently HE felt it worthwhile to bind the Army together in this manner to prevent the Army from having to fight in faraway places. This wasn’t Moskos or Larry Sabato coming up with the idea, but a decorated combat veteran.

And the RC isn’t just for "major wars." Not any more... and if that’s what the RC thinks its for it needs a new think. That was its mission from 1919 until 1989, sure, the Force in Being for the Next Big One, but right now there isn’t a NEXT BIG ONE in the offing. There are a number of Large Big Ones, mayhap, but no WWIII’s looming. Its mission is to provide the support services to the AC not within the active force structure, a force structure created to LIMIT THE ABILITY OF THE AC to fight in an expeditionary manner, a la Vietnam.

I would further add that when the RC thinks it’s there for the Next Big One it doesn’t take itself very seriously, and neither does the AC. The RC doesn’t train well and the AC doesn’t devote many resources to the RC. The result is that when mobilized and deployed it takes heavier damage than it ought! If there is to be a RC then it needs to be ready to deploy, for any contingency, not just The Next War in Europe. Otherwise abolish the Guard and Reserves, and rely on a draft to produce the Combat, CS and CSS units for a larger contigency.
You structure your reserves to pick up the slack on major and extended depolyments ... a war of more than a few months. What’s happened for years is everytime we’ve deployed AC units we’ve been forced to deploy reserve units to support them. The erosion in the reserve forces started long before Iraq.
And actually what I expect to happen is that the AC will create the CS and CSS units within it’s manpower limits and go without the RC. Leading tot he problems that the RC and the Force had in the 1960’s, an ability to deploy faraway and a reduced, almost pointless RC, incapable of supporting the Force and drawing resources away from the Force.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well all I can say is that this was created by THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY, the late Creighton Abrams, after his tour of command in Vietnam. Apparently HE felt it worthwhile to bind the Army together in this manner to prevent the Army from having to fight in faraway places. This wasn’t Moskos or Larry Sabato coming up with the idea, but a decorated combat veteran.
I know who Creighton Abrams is. My dad was a company commander and S3 for him in Germany, and I grew up with his son John. Creighton Abrams came up with the Total Force concept, and if you’d have bothered reading what I said, I made the point that the problem wasn’t a Total Force problem but a force structure problem.
And the RC isn’t just for "major wars." Not any more... and if that’s what the RC thinks its for it needs a new think. That was its mission from 1919 until 1989, sure, the Force in Being for the Next Big One, but right now there isn’t a NEXT BIG ONE in the offing. There are a number of Large Big Ones, mayhap, but no WWIII’s looming. Its mission is to provide the support services to the AC not within the active force structure, a force structure created to LIMIT THE ABILITY OF THE AC to fight in an expeditionary manner, a la Vietnam.
Nonsense. The name "reserve" connotes the mission. It is not a force to be deployed everytime an AC unit heads OCONUS. What part of "the fact it is that way now is a MISTAKE" don’t you understand? It is a FORCE STRUCTURE problem.
I would further add that when the RC thinks it’s there for the Next Big One it doesn’t take itself very seriously, and neither does the AC
The AC never has ... which is part of the in-house problem the Army constantly faces. It’s a leadership problem the Marines, Air Force and Navy have somehow managed to overcome. The reserves, on the other hand, do take themselves very seriously. But claiming they’re available for every deployment isn’t how it is, how it is presented or how it is understood in the reserves.

And constantly deploying the reserve in that manner will only create a hollow reserve force which can never (and will never) be up to the strength or training it needs to be effective.

IOW, and as I’ve said before, it’s a stupid way to use reserve forces.
And actually what I expect to happen is that the AC will create the CS and CSS units within it’s manpower limits and go without the RC. Leading tot he problems that the RC and the Force had in the 1960’s, an ability to deploy faraway and a reduced, almost pointless RC, incapable of supporting the Force and drawing resources away from the Force.
Not if its a short deployment. And if its not THEN you callup the reserves, train them up and plug them in. That’s what they’re for.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Not if its a short deployment. And if its not THEN you callup the reserves, train them up and plug them in. That’s what they’re for.

But that’s not what is going to happen, McQ. if the AC is going to create the CS and CSS units, it will use them and ignore the RC portions! Why use weekend warriors when we can deploy REAL soldiers? I think in the end, if you create a limited CS and CSS structure it will morph into a PERMANENT structure, supplanting, not supplementing the RC. You will probably disagree. It is one of those things, one believes there is a God or not... I tend to see the AC attempting to spread itself out at the expense of the RC, you may not.
Nonsense. The name "reserve" connotes the mission. It is not a force to be deployed everytime an AC unit heads OCONUS. What part of "the fact it is that way now is a MISTAKE" don’t you understand? It is a FORCE STRUCTURE problem.
I might ask you the same question... I see the the Total Force and the division of units as A PART OF THE FORCE STRUCTURE. When you begin to change the mission of the AC and RC you are affecting the FORCE STRUCTURE. I am defending the current divison of resources and hence the curent FORCE STRUCTURE. I see your point, I disagree with it, to a large extent.

I realize you use hyperbole here, but the RC isn’t deployed EVERY time an AC unit deploys outside CONUS, only when the AC unit is deployng for a contigency or operational deployment! you see that as a "bug" I see it as a feature... In CONUS or Nurnberg, the Army doesn’t need the RC to support itself, but when it deploys in more than a limited way to kill people or break things, it needs the RC. Again, this is feature to me, not a bug.

I understand your point, the RC can be worn out by constant deployment. Can’t the Army field QM units apart from the RC units? To an extent I’m OK with that, but I would really want to limit the ability of the Army to deploy more than a BRIGADE outside of CONUS without RC support. Go much beyond a brigade and I think that the Army needs to deploy reservists... You want to go to Rwanda, you want to go to Haiti, you want to go to Iraq, OK, but go with 3 battalions or less or be prepared to begin to call up reservists. And be prepared to KEEP CALLING them up if the deployment is going to be lengthy. Again, this is not a bug... I call it a benefit. To the US military, as well as to the US, in general.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
But that’s not what is going to happen, McQ. if the AC is going to create the CS and CSS units, it will use them and ignore the RC portions!
Joe, have you ever heard of EAC units?

That’s primarily the level at which we should see the reserve CS and CSS units. Quartermaster, transportation, port management, TAACOMs, signal commands, depot maintenance, POL, water purification, etc .... all the units that aren’t necessary on a SHORT DEPLOYMENT for goodness sake.

What you put in the AC are those CS and CSS units necessary for a short deployment (however that is defined). If the deployment is going to be a major one and involve Corps level deployments you bring in the Corps slice of the CS and CSS units (and the reserves provide some units there and at echelons above Corps (EAC)).

You stucture your force to be the most responsive dependending on the duration and scope of the mission. That’s a FORCE STRUCTURE problem.
I see the the Total Force and the division of units as A PART OF THE FORCE STRUCTURE.
They are, they’re the RESERVE portion, for heaven sake. They’re to be depolyed when there’s nothing else available to support the deployed AC. That’s how reserve forces work. The fact that they would deploy last doesn’t mean they aren’t a part of the total force. It simply means they’re being used in a role that makes the most sense and is least likely to get people killed. A FORCE STRUCTURE problem.
Can’t the Army field QM units apart from the RC units?
Yes, and they should ... that’s the point. They should be able to do a totally self-sufficient, wheels up and we’re gone, full deployment of a particular size (maybe one corps) for a particular period without ever calling up the first reserve unit.

What that means, in reality, is a full theater level CS and CSS support structure in the AC to support a deployment of a particular size. If that deployment ends up being bigger and longer, THEN you call up reserve units to fill in at EAC and elsewhere as needed.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
For those not familiar with the abbreviation, a reminder:
CS = Combat Support
CSS = Combat Service Support
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
Objective - an army of occupation capable of occupying maybe 2 or 3 third world countries at a time. To pay for it advocate reduced purchasing of MiG-1.42 and J-X countering F-22 fighters, thereby degrading offensive and defensive capability.

The USA needs capability to overcome Russian and Chinese air force systems, because this is what your adverseries will use - you need the F-22s and plenty of them. If you do not have demonstrateably superior airforces to Russia and China, you lose access to Central Asia.

So by all means increase the size of the army, but do not expect it to come at expense of other vital programs. It will require additional military spending.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
Nathan
On behalf of those of us who are not current on the latest militarese jargon, thank you. How about RIP and EAC?

I have a question. If the total number of personnel is to be reduced, and number of various specialty troops are to be increased, and the number of combat brigades is to be increased, does this mean that the combat brigades will have a reduced manpower level? If so, that doesn’t make much sense to me.

As far as cancelling the expensive items like the F-22 and ships, since it takes years to build a ship, and months to build an airplane, doesn’t it make some sense to build the time consuming items whien we have time? If we ever go to war with China, for example, we will not have time to build the factories, train the workers, and then wait a year or more for the finished products. Personnel, on the other hand, can be produced in a relatively short time. They may not be as good as we would like, but in a major war we will have to do it anyway. The choice is, I suppose, between preparing for a major war which is low probability(I hope) but big risk, or minor wars which are high probability but low risk. Being conservative, I think the better choice is to prepare for the major war, even if that means forgoing the pleasure of indulging in a few minor ones.

One more thing, if so many soldiers have the ability to succed in ranger school, etc., would I be correct in assuming that the washout rate is very low?

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
timactual,
the Brigade BECOMES a primary maneuver unit. Currently a Brigade is a Brigade Headquarters and a variable number of combat maneuver battalions, assigned by the divisional commander, plus support units. Under the current system a brigade could have 2-5 maneuver battalions.

Under the proposed system, the brigade takes on a fixed, or relatively fixed organization, of two maneuver battalions and a cavalry squadron (technically the the Reconnaissane, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron), plus artillery, engineers, and support units. The divison will be a mix of BRIGADES, with little organic support.

So yes brigades do become smaller, normally a brigade has 3-4 battalions, and now will have only 2, maneuver battalions. However it is hoped that the RSTA Squadron plus other technologies will increase "situational awareness" and the combat potential of the smaller brigade.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Under the proposed system, the brigade takes on a fixed, or relatively fixed organization, of two maneuver battalions and a cavalry squadron (technically the the Reconnaissane, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron), plus artillery, engineers, and support units. The divison will be a mix of BRIGADES, with little organic support.
Or said another way, we turn back the clock to a variation on the old Regimental Combat Teams (a modern equivalent would be the Armored Cavalry Regiment).

Battalions are the basic maneuver units, always have been. What this does is lessen the necessary span of control and hopefully make the new bdes more agile in combat not to mention a little more self-sufficient. And instead of deploying divisions, you can deploy bdes (not that we haven’t been doing that for quite some time, but they haven’t been structured to be self-sufficient).

BTW, "EAC" means "Echelons Above Corps", such as Army, Theater, etc. RIP is "Ranger Indoctrination Program" which candidates for the 75th Ranger Regiment who haven’t gone to ranger school must pass before going to Ranger School. It’s a Ranger prep course.
As far as cancelling the expensive items like the F-22 and ships, since it takes years to build a ship, and months to build an airplane, doesn’t it make some sense to build the time consuming items whien we have time?
Again, I am not recommending we cancel anything. I’m saying we can get along with fewer of those high cost items than we think we can and we can then spend the 15 billion necessary for the extra soldiers without increasing the defense budget.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I mean EAC, RIP, RSTA, ah what would a discussion of DoD be without an array of acronyms?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Less fighters and more troops, less superpowering and more peacekeeping.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Thank you for the definitions

Now I have more questions. How does the commander form a reserve? I have heard this was fairly important. With the hoary old system of a triad of maneuver elements, it was simple to have two forward and one in reserve. How do they manage it with only two maneuver battallions? Who provides security for the rear echelon? How do the batallions rest & refit? If all the artillery, etc. is divided among the brigades, how does a commander efficiently concentrate support where it is needed? Who had the span of control problem before? How is manageing three subordinate commands plus support units a span of control problem? As best I can recollect, under the Reorganization of Army Division(ROAD) concept, brigades were already basically an ad hoc collection of batallions that could be tailored for specific missions; sort of a battlegroup concept.
Somehow I think this is more of a bureaucratic thing, providing more command slots for colonels or brigadiers. This kind of thing seems to happen every 20 years or so in the military, and frequently when corporate leadership changes in the civilian world. All those Wharton MBAs start to think their predecessors were a bunch of old fuddy-duddys who knew nothing of modern management science.

And the bottom line is that there are fewer grunts to do the actual work. Hi-tech surveillance and uavs are nice, but I don’t think there is any substitute for the actual presence of troops. The more eyeballs the better, you have to sleep sometime, and you can’t intimidate folks or secure ground from 1000 feet with a drone.
This sounds, to me, like a force limited to operations like occupation.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Now I have more questions. How does the commander form a reserve? I have heard this was fairly important. With the hoary old system of a triad of maneuver elements, it was simple to have two forward and one in reserve. How do they manage it with only two maneuver battallions?
You put a reinforced company in reserve. You can also have some other manuver units chopped to your control if necessary. Add army aviation, fast movers and artillery and you’re in pretty good shape.
If all the artillery, etc. is divided among the brigades, how does a commander efficiently concentrate support where it is needed?
Not all the artillery is divided among the bdes, only the direct support artillery is there (which is something manuver units have been asking for for years). GS, GSR and R fires would still be at a higher level. They’re not doing away with divisons or corps, so Divarty and Corps artillery support would still exist.
How do the batallions rest & refit?
Just like they do now ... they’re relived by a like unit and become a reserve where rest and refit are done.
As best I can recollect, under the Reorganization of Army Division(ROAD) concept, brigades were already basically an ad hoc collection of batallions that could be tailored for specific missions; sort of a battlegroup concept.
Battalions are still the basic manuver unit of the army.
And the bottom line is that there are fewer grunts to do the actual work.
Depends on the work. Some scenarios will take more bdes than others, but with an end strength of almost 600,000 they’ll have enough boots on the ground depending on the mission.

Again, look at how an ACR works and you get an idea of how this concept will work.

Timactual:
the Brigade BECOMES a primary maneuver unit.
No. Battalions are and always have been considered the primary manuver units of any army. Bde’s are simply command and control headquarters. They’ll be more robust now that in the past, but they’re still a C & C headquarters.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
"GS, GSR and R fires"

??

I am still skeptical. I predict that in 10 years or so , or (God forbid) if we are engaged in a serious war, they will revert to 3 maneuver batallions and a support/hq battalion. It seems so much easier(possibly due to familiarity). Divisions have, I think, 9 maneuver battalions now, and 3 bd hqs. Will a division now have 4 bd hqs with 8 battalions?

As I read the article, 600,000 is a wish and highly unlikely since the QDR calls for 480,000. As I pointed out before, combined with increases in other areas, this would necessarily mean a reduction in the number of grunts.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
GS - General Support
GSR - General Support Reinforcing
R - Reinforcing
Divisions have, I think, 9 maneuver battalions now, and 3 bd hqs. Will a division now have 4 bd hqs with 8 battalions?
They can most likely have whatever the commanders decide they need based on the mission.

A bit like corps which can have 2 or X divisions depending on the mission. This building block approach allows some flexibility in task organizing divisions.
As I read the article, 600,000 is a wish and highly unlikely since the QDR calls for 480,000.
I know, and as I’ve stated, I think that’s a mistake as we’ll find out in the future, unfortunately.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
I’m with Joe on the unreasonable attempts to push up SOF numbers. One of the four truths of SOF is that they can’t be mass-produced. Here’s a novel idea- what about improving the standards for the rest of the military? What about modifying UCMJ so we don’t have restrictive ROE but are still operating in a moral manner in concert with our political objectives? What about getting rid of all the fat- anyone who’s been to Iraq might have an opinion on this about say, Camp Victory or Liberty and all the crap behind those T-walls.

Doubling SOF is a strawman IMHO. Why don’t we make the army we have work like they’re supposed to- give them more reasonable deployment schedules and more able to interact with locals instead of hiding them behind concrete prisons. But no...

I am a bit negative about all this intellectual masturbation over the wars of the future. Why can’t we win the war of the present first? It’s a good idea, and one that people in the Pentagon are thinking but keep getting constrained by different forces. People don’t seem to realize that this little fight is exactly that, very little... we need to be prepared for the big one as well.
 
Written By: Singuh
URL: pmclassic.blogspot.com
One of the four truths of SOF is that they can’t be mass-produced.
No one said they’d be "mass-produced", and you’d know that if you’d read all the above.
I am a bit negative about all this intellectual masturbation over the wars of the future.
Well, here’s the rub ... you still have to fight them.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Sorry I am taking so long to respond, I wish I could be a more active participant in this discussion but I’m traveling at the moment.

I know you still have to fight wars and prepare for the next. And I do appreciate the attempts to discuss them. I just think people plussing up SOCOM is a copout that ignores the existing problems. For example, I see the points being made which say that we can plan to increase our SOF over the next ten years- but are you aware of the current shortages and manning problems they are experiencing at the moment? Since this is a public forum, I don’t feel comfortable with recording the details that I know of due to OPSEC. But to me, and I speak only of USASOC- the idea of adding another squadron, or SFG, or Ranger Battalion- which is what I believe would be the conclusion of what everyone is saying, would require a little more fundamental change than just Congress changing numbers. And without that change, it would result in a lowering of standards which would, by definition, make our SOF not so special. That is the primary fear. My superiors always said that they would prefer to be understaffed with the right people than 100% with reduced standards. And at times, 6-man squads were how it was.

If we want to solve manning problems and want a way to increase the fighting power of SOF- what about a force of Foreign Auxiliaries? Hackworth, for all the hack he was, wrote an excellent idea of the framework for such an ’American Foreign Legion’. With modification, this would be a cost-efficient manner of doing things abroad we could not otherwise do. Why is this not an option to be discussed?
 
Written By: Sunguh
URL: http://pmclassic.blogspot.com
But to me, and I speak only of USASOC- the idea of adding another squadron, or SFG, or Ranger Battalion- which is what I believe would be the conclusion of what everyone is saying, would require a little more fundamental change than just Congress changing numbers. And without that change, it would result in a lowering of standards which would, by definition, make our SOF not so special.
I’m basically of the opinion we could have a much larger SOF than we presently have without lowering standards. But I agree with your point that it would take much more than Congress agreeing to the numbers. It would take fundamental changes in the way we recruit, train, screen and, probably most importantly, compensate special operators (because the retention problem begins when our SOF guys are at their peak of training and proficiency). So we don’t disagree that more than cosmetic change has to occur to make an expansion of SF a reality.
If we want to solve manning problems and want a way to increase the fighting power of SOF- what about a force of Foreign Auxiliaries? Hackworth, for all the hack he was, wrote an excellent idea of the framework for such an ’American Foreign Legion’. With modification, this would be a cost-efficient manner of doing things abroad we could not otherwise do. Why is this not an option to be discussed?
It’s a good question and one I can’t answer. I could certainly see some use in that type of a force and, of course, we’d have the entire world from which to draw. But then we have that now (I forget the percentage of our military which aren’t citizens). My guess, and that’s all it is, is that our military leaders just wouldn’t be comfortable with that sort of a force being associated with them.

If the leadership we presently have can’t even properly integrate our reserve forces into a "total force" how in the world would that same leadership use a foreign legion?

BTW, we agree on Hackworth.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
My only point is that people don’t understand the difference between SOF and how it exists in the military. I think if we tried to incorporate higher standards from the beginning (OBC, Basic), we could instill higher values and maybe have a better pool of SOF applicants that would lead to better manning for SOF units. In the meantime, let’s do more to improve the normal military units, even (or especially) the Reserve and the National Guard. People don’t really realize the turnover many of those units have experienced in the past couple of years since 9/11- many for the better as I understand it.

Reform like this would take some kind of ’vision’ for lack of a better word, and congressional cooperation. I think UCMJ and politically restricted ROE are equally repulsive and in need of reform. The sheer bureaucratic tail required to get anything done in a warzone is baffling, and believable only to those who have experienced it. Honestly, much of SOF’s effectiveness probably comes from their ability to bypass traditional methods of operation.

In this are a gap is created by our decision-making crisis (masked by this QDR), and PMC’s are filling that gap. From my perspective, I’ve seen improvement in things that it’s good to have other people doing (such as cooking and other logistical aspects of warfare) but a general degrading of national fighting capability when we outsource the responsibility by paying other people to fight for us. For example, a company might get a contract to protect the airport and they bring in 500 barely trained locals with 10 or 15 expats. Saving a lot of money, but it’s a structural problem controlling how they would deal with the locals. Another thing I could go into more detail with, but it’s too far off topic. That’s kind of where my support for a foreign legion would come from, but the big difference being the DoD controls it and not someone with ulterior motives.

But it’ll be a while before someone has the balls to take this stuff on. We can only hope one day our pessimism is proved unwarranted.
 
Written By: Sunguh
URL: http://pmclassic.blogspot.com
Sunguh: might be worthwhile to continue the discussion here.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/

 
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