Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Wampum: You go to war with the army you have


Blogger Management said...

You go to war with the army you have

The media and blog buzz is on the human drama that played out in a hanger at Camp Buehring in Kuwait -- Tom Wilson's "scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass" whatitis hobo armor and sandbags question on the topic vehicle armor and pending deployment of the Tennessee Army National Guard from Kuwait to Iraq, the amens the whatitis drew from those on the pews, and the response Donald Rumsfeld offered, interpreted as insulting the soldiers and the intelligence of the american people and other variations on those and similar themes, or its actually omitted (e.g., the Stars and Stripes coverage).

I'm not going to chase that soccer ball. I didn't when I wrote Not to be contrary or anything ... but at the end of October, when Rudy Gulianai said something that got jumped on. Instead I'm going to write about what I think Donald Rumsfeld really ment.
You go to war with the army you have.

The National Security Act of 1947 combined the Departments of War and the Navy forming the National Military Establishment. Since that date the armed forces of the United States have gone through several distinct phases. The phase the United States armed forces are in is one in which the regular army, constituted as large, stable instutitional commands, ceases to exist, and is replaced by a smaller unstable (or "fluid" if that term is preferable) situational commands. If "ceases to exist, and is replaced by" is too simplistic, substitute "is transformed, tending towards". This has tremendous long-term implications for career and non-career officers and enlisted men and women, and for the arms industry. Their relative shares of a pie, independent of the expansion or contraction of the pie, will change.

That isn't what I am going to write about however. I'm going to write about what a nation state can do with a small, agile, technologically advanced force structure. I'm going to write about the wars you can go to, as well as the wars you cannot go to, with the army the regime is creating, and where that takes ... you, for some value of "you".

With a "rapid reaction" or a "preemptive" force with a maximum troop strength of 1x10^6 troops, and technological advantage, a nation state will be able to destroy or significantly damage the force structure of other nation states. The predicate condition is that the opposing nation states make their forces available for engagement and destruction or significant damage. The confidence level for this forcast is high for the set of opposing forces bounded above by 1x10^7, and below by 1x10^5, that is, where no more than one order of magnitude of difference in troop strengths organized as operational military commands exists between the "rapid reaction" or a "preemptive" forces and the opposing forces, whether "rapid acting" or "preempted". For nation states that can field a million troops (Russia, China, India), and nation states that can articulate their policy of action or respond to preemption without the use of troops, the small, agile, technologically advanced force structure is an ineffective tool for achieving national policy goals that require war fighting capabilities.

The wars you can go to with this army are wars with small countries committed to militarism, and wars with large countries not committed to militarism. The wars you cannot go to with this army are wars with large countries committed to militarism, or small contries not committed to militarism. The wars you can go to with this army are wars with nations committed to forward defense, or fixed point defense. China is safe, as is Switzerland. The first because it can field a standing army in the millions, independent of its central command. The second because it is committed to defense in depth, independent of its gnomes.

In short, the current plan for the armed forces of the United States is to seek defeat by the Warsaw Pact, should any Warsaw Pact equivalent force take the field against the United States or its allies and interests, to seek victory over Iraq, should any Iraqi Army equivalent force take the field against the United States or its allies and interests, or be preemptively taken off the field, by the United States, and to seek defeat by the Nguyen Ai Quoc writers group (Viet Minh) should any Nguyen Ai Quoc equivalent writers group choose to commit to sustained decentralized adaptive military operations. That's it. Sheiks, Dictators, Oligarchies, the narrow ossified cleptocracies, and democracies of modest means. The future wars of the United States look a lot like the past wars of the Marine Corps ... in Latin America.

But that isn't all. Even when second-rate follow-on forces are added to the picture, regular forces assigned to non-doctrinal roles like the airmen assigned to drive gun trucks on Maine Supply Route Tampa, the Reserves and National Guard as seen from the current militarist elites' point of view, the small, agile, technologically advanced force cannot stop and occupy and police. The United States will be able to destablize or destroy fragile political regimes, but it will not be capable of replacing or stabalizing political regimes.

I need to wrap this up. Who is going to replace or stabalize regimes after the US carries out a smash-and-grab? Abutting states, groups of abutting states, regional groupings of states, and finally the UN will, because order decreassing is not what any of these abutters or interested non-abutters want, after the US has come and gone. As the US acts to decrease the stability of states, states will respond to limit the instability, so it is foreseeable that the "small, agile, technologically advanced preemptive force" doctrine of destabilization will cause an increase in the material capabilities of stablizing forces. The US is forcing planners in Europe, West, South, Central, and East Asia, South America, and Africa, to think federally. To think about how to pick up the pieces after Nigeria fails, for each regional equivalent to Nigeria, or Afganistan, or Iraq.

The whole small, agile, technological mantra means the US has left the Allies and is heading off towards wars of assassination, to politically inconsequential cut-and-run operations, decades of whack-a-mole, with real peace keeping left to Brazil and India and South Africa and France and ... There will be no room at the table for the Vikings.

You do go to war with the army you have. Do you love the one you're with? And who cares if Rummy insulted the troops or screwed some other pooch. The army we have is increassingly structurally disfunctional, in addition to being a breeding ground for a new generation of LIC sociopaths, the RMA crowd, who have lost sight of why the Republic has a military. It isn't for the purposes of simply having a military.

There is an up-side to the whole whatitis over hobo armor. The 343rd Quartermaster Company arrested October 14th are now out of the woods. We had a small role to play in that, mostly due to Juan Cole's picking up of our reading of the facts in evidence, and because some journalists read some blogs, such as Cole's.

8:59 PM  

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