View Full Version : The Army, Faced With Its Limits

01-01-2006, 08:04 AM
1 Jan. New York Times - The Army, Faced With Its Limits (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/01/weekinreview/01kaplan.html).

... The Pentagon expects to face many Iraq-type conflicts in the coming years, wars that involve battling insurgents and restoring stability. As a result, a debate is beginning to churn in defense policy circles: Should the government enlarge the military so it can more easily fight these wars? Or should the government alter its policies, so as not to fight such wars as often, at least not alone?

Senior Pentagon officials argue that neither shift is necessary, that reorganizing the Army's existing combat units into stronger, faster and more flexible brigades will have the same effect as adding more soldiers. But some analysts doubt these adjustments alone will go far enough.

Lawrence Korb, who was assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs in the Reagan administration, states the issue baldly: "We cannot fight a long, sustained war without a larger ground force." He defines a "long war" as lasting two years or more. The Iraq war has gone on now for nearly three.

The claim may seem strange, until you peel apart the numbers. Of the Army's one million soldiers, fewer than 400,000 are combat troops (the rest are support personnel). Only about 150,000 of those combat troops are on active duty; the rest are in the National Guard and Reserves...

01-04-2006, 03:22 PM
Kaplan does a good job pointing out what many members of government seem to forget sometimes there is just no substitute for numbers. Foreign military adventures done on the cheap will often result in disaster. Unfortunately most senior members of both the military and the government seem either unwilling or unable to see this.

01-04-2006, 03:31 PM
This recent RAND study takes a good hard look at the subject:

Stretched Thin: Army Forces for Sustained Operations (http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG362.pdf)

Demand for use of the nationís military forces, for both overseas operations and homeland security, has been growing. The increased operational tempo, driven primarily by the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, has led to more frequent and lengthy deployments of units across the entire U.S. Army. These large-scale deployments have two effects on the force.

First, the rotation pattern means that much of a unitís time is devoted to deployments or to recovery from a previous deployment and preparation for the next one. Units have little time at home for other activities, including training to develop warfighting capabilities or sustaining readiness for other contingencies that may require rapid response. Second, deployments take soldiers away from their homes and communities, thus reducing quality of life for soldiers and families and threatening recruiting and retention.

The demanding calls now being made on Army forces present the nation with two key questions: How much does the rapid rotation of deployments stretch the Armyís units and soldiers? And does the Army have the right number of combat units in its active-duty and reserve forces to sustain high levels of overseas deployments while maintaining ready units for other contingencies at home and abroad?