View Full Version : Restructuring America’s Ground Forces (Shameless Self Promotion)

09-22-2007, 11:41 AM
Restructuring America’s Ground Forces: Better, Not Bigger (http://www.stanleyfoundation.org/resources.cfm?id=262)

"The core defense debate of our time is how to make the US military more effective at irregular warfare (IW) and stability, security, transition, and reconstruction (SSTR) operations in weak or failing states while still retaining some aspect of its strategic capabilities for major power warfare. Given the current global security system and likely future American strategy, the configuration that provides the best balance is one with ground forces about the size of today’s, with the Marines and the Army organized around a geographic division of labor, but with enough cross-training that each service could, in an emergency, operate outside its normal region. While the ground forces must retain the capability for large-scale conventional combat, they clearly should focus most of their efforts on the requirements of IW/SSTR. This may not be the force we would prefer to have in 2020, but it is the most realistic one for the coming decade..."

09-22-2007, 09:15 PM
Thanks for sharing, Dr. Metz. I liked the article a lot, and am inclined to agree the question isn't so much force size or new procurement as it is training, command structure, and mindset. When someone argues for "ten new combat brigades" as Giuliani did in his prospective foreign policy article in the last Foreign Affairs, I feel like they don't know what they're talking about. Or, perhaps more accurately, new brigades or Marine regiments would ease the strain of operational deployment tempo, but not address the underlying concerns of the mismatch, so to speak, between force capabilities and mission requirements.

Also, my personal belief is that for a myriad of reasons we won't be doing another nation-building-type intervention on the Iraq scale for some time, and the current mission there will be considerably scaled-down over the next year and a half. If that turned out to be the case, the new brigades would be a large and unneccessary expense.

I think the answer will come slowly and from the commitment of officers and men to institutionalize the lessons of our current and past conflicts and reorient themselves, their units, and even their equipment capabilities towards future missions. That doesn't require 95,000 new men or even the dismantlement of our conventional capabilities, particularly in naval and air forces.

Thanks again for a good article - you're a good read.


Tom OC
09-23-2007, 07:51 PM
Dr. Metz, thanks for sharing your article. I always like reading you, and didn't know if you were inviting comment or not, but will so anyway, from my perspective. What I appreciate most are your attempts to provide a system of measurement for plausibility of intervention. It reminds me of the many spectra and continua approaches we have in the field of homeland security. But, I think we have a long way to go before these models and typologies can evolve into theories. However, you outline the options in a good, mutually exclusive fashion. What I'm concerned with are the validity of some of the options, to wit, whether civilian control of the military is accounted for in some of the options. Certainly any thrust toward restructuring as you suggest would take some decisive civilian leadership, or vice-versa (as one commentator has already suggested), the military will reorient itself on its own. If we're chiming in on options, my favorite would be Option #2 (the two and a half approach, assuming the HS force is smaller than the other two). I think this approach gives room for a growing, civilian HLS/EM workforce. You are right about the Marine Corps needing to put more commitment behind joint special ops, and my take on this (tell me if I'm wrong) is that part of the Corps culture is that they're always joint special ops. I don't see that culture changing much, just as I don't see much hope for operations with diverse coalition partners. It may be that there are few places worth occupying in the years to come, but state collapse is inevitable and it may very well be that larger will mean better, at least for the world's sake.

10-25-2007, 04:17 AM
The sad reality is that the American public, shrouded in its naiveté and viewing the world through an ambiguous lens, will have to be sold on the need for any radical reformation of the military, short term or not. As it stands now, the public looks at the military as a "hired force", much like police and fire functions to take care of "military things" that really translate to .." to protect affluence and a way if life that I am accustomed to." When I speak of the public, I am not looking at the poor or rich elitists but the "middle class" that is fighting for more affluence. The sad reality is that to do this right, the active duty force, mainly the Army and Marines, would have to be radically expanded to meet both short-term and long-term commitments, as they stand now. The chance of a major, symmetric war in the next 35 years with Europe, India, and/of China, to secure resources, is very possible. Therefore, the military will have to expand, to include the Air Force and Navy, to fight both ways. Also, expect political and legal changes on how the National Guard can be used too. Therefore, the public will have to be convinced of the need to fund this, something that is not likely in the wake of the Iraq and Afghani war. On the other hand, if gas at the pump were $1.00, the connection, correct or not, with the military, would be much stronger. However, the ability to man and equip a large force is highly doubtful.

10-25-2007, 06:49 PM
The military will always have to play catch-up in time of crisis. Much of the money will be there when needed but you will never have all you want or think you need before the sh** hits the fan. The analogy is living in a nice neighborhood and being told two expensive watchdogs are needed and triple titanium locks for each door and a state of the art property surveilance system. People simply do not see the need until it is too late. 5,000 years of recent evolution and recorded history has not given us foresight in such matters