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Thread: All matters MRAP JLTV (merged thread)

  1. #301
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    Default Inability to use in mountains does not preclude use in Helmand province

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Apologies if this has already been posted elsewhere and I missed it, but I'm sure many will be nodding in agreement (not necessary on the M1 issue, but rather on the transportation/tactical flexibility/risk aversion issue):

    Tanks, But No Tanks
    Why heavy armor won't save Afghanistan.
    Foreign Policy Magazine
    BY MICHAEL WALTZ | NOVEMBER 24, 2010
    But isn't the inability to use tanks/M-ATV in mountainous terrain a separate issue from use on flatter terrain? For instance, read recently that we are constructing "military roads" using engineer equipment and line charges that are well removed from the population. That way we do not encourage the Taliban to use IEDs on roads the public uses. With single tanks and a squad of infantry positioned every few kilometers along these "military roads," if properly positioned, tanks and small UAS could preclude IED-planting on the "road" and overwatch of population centers a km or so away where dismounts would move daily.

    Tanks with rollers could also create temporary routes each day leading M-ATV/Strykers and dismounts toward populated areas where the M-ATV/Strykers would provide overwatch. Fuel trucks would use the military roads to resupply the tanks/M-ATV/Strykers.

    Can also picture an optional-two-man ATV with tires spread far enough apart that a well-armored V-shaped tandem-seat (like Apache) PAX capsule would survive when the wheels triggered the pressure plate. Put airbags inside the interior to cushion the troops when the armored capsule goes airborne. Might even use a deploying parachute if the capsule sensed sudden acceleration. We spend millions putting ejection seats in fighters with low probability of use. We could similarly protect a limited number of two-man OP ATVs.
    Last edited by Cole; 11-25-2010 at 10:06 PM. Reason: Added Strykers and removed Bradley in second paragraph.

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    From the quoted article:
    To be clear, fault does not lie with the MRAP, MATV, or any other armored vehicle. It lies with how commanders are using the vehicles due to their aversion to risk and their attempts to minimize coalition injuries at the expense of the broader counterinsurgency mission. The vehicles' size would not be a hindrance to that mission if junior coalition commanders were also authorized to use other smaller vehicles to access the difficult areas of Afghanistan. For example, if a unit needed to access a village that was only accessible by pickup truck or Humvee, then that is what they would use.
    Not sure about this.

    Given the number and (blast) strength of vehicle IEDs in Afghanistan I would suggest that if troops need to travel or deploy by vehicle they need to use MRAPs... and then only the latest upgraded versions. As IEDs account for the majority of KIA and a larger number of really severe mutilation injuries it would be criminally negligent for a commander to send troops out in a non MRAP vehicle unless for a very specific once-off purpose.

    It has been said that the Northern Ireland IED threat was largely defeated through the intelligent use of helicopters and the judicious use of vehicles. If the US does not know this then the Brits obviously do and they should have known better themselves in Afghanistan. There is no excuse for this.

    I wait with baited breath to hear how sending troops down mined roads in unprotected vehicles will contribute to the "counterinsurgency mission".

    Risk aversion is a problem in Afghanistan, I agree, but not in this case.

  3. #303
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    It may be counterintuitive, but we actually need less armor, and we need to be more flexible and unpredictable. Instead of dictating that no unit can leave its base unless in an MRAP or MATV, we must allow them to use Humvees, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and ruggedized pickup trucks when appropriate. Knowing their movements are being watched at all times, units need to use deception, such as varying the time of day and night they move, their routes of travel, and the types of vehicles in which they conduct missions, to keep the insurgents constantly guessing.
    This is just nonsensical and a poor defence of FM3-24 bad ideas. Tanks are a tool. They require skill to be used well, just as do any other vehicle. Use tanks, use Hummers, use Snowmobiles.

    The Soviets were a 3rd rate army so discard their example.

    Better to have a tank and not need it, than not have one. If this is not well understood, then there is a massive training problem in the US Army and apparently within the SF community.

    When the article says "and we need to be more flexible and unpredictable" what he is really saying is "we need to be less stupid badly trained." Vehicles alone, regardless of type, will not help that problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    This is just nonsensical and a poor defence of FM3-24 bad ideas. Tanks are a tool. They require skill to be used well, just as do any other vehicle. Use tanks, use Hummers, use Snowmobiles.
    Wilf:

    I think you are misreading to a degree the thrust of the article, which is not really about tanks at all (despite the misleading title): it is about letting the mission (whether cast in FM3-24 terms or otherwise) determine the tactical employment of assets, rather than allowing the mission be determined by the provision of technological fixes ("widgets") and risk aversion.

    JMA:

    Ditto. Presumably if a Taliban troop concentration or sanctuary isn't MRAP-reachable (MRAPable?) that shouldn't put it out of reach if other possible methods can be found (whether helicopter insertion, other vehicles/routes, or on foot) that achieve the operational objective.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Wilf:

    I think you are misreading to a degree the thrust of the article, which is not really about tanks at all (despite the misleading title): it is about letting the mission (whether cast in FM3-24 terms or otherwise) determine the tactical employment of assets, rather than allowing the mission be determined by the provision of technological fixes ("widgets") and risk aversion.
    That was exactly my reading. When did any good army, not require such a degree of judgement?
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    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post

    Better to have a tank and not need it, than not have one. If this is not well understood, then there is a massive training problem in the US Army and apparently within the SF community.
    Amen. There's a whole bunch of grunts alive because someone had a few tanks available. Alternately, there's a whole bunch of Rangers dead because the US didn't have any tanks available when needed. METT-TC dictates, but there is no tactical reason tanks can't be employed successfully in RC-S, the Canadians and Dutch have been doing it for awhile. The bigger strategic question is whether the increased logistics demand incurs greater vulnerabilities in other areas. (more convoys)

    A little simplistic, but I've seen it over and over. When you're in deep doo doo, nothing ends a fight like a tank showing up. (see sig)
    Last edited by Cavguy; 11-27-2010 at 08:40 AM.
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    Default Danes too

    The Royal Danish Army has a mechanised infantry battalion in Helmand, with attached Leopard tanks. IIRC they were supporting the USMC at one point, maybe at Marjah, although the Danes are part of the UK brigade.

    Overwatch has been cited before, I think by 'Red Rat'.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    JMA:

    Ditto. Presumably if a Taliban troop concentration or sanctuary isn't MRAP-reachable (MRAPable?) that shouldn't put it out of reach if other possible methods can be found (whether helicopter insertion, other vehicles/routes, or on foot) that achieve the operational objective.
    To start with I believe this article has some merit (in the broadest terms).

    By grouping tanks with MRAP vehicles it becomes somewhat unsuck. The Marines have indicated a requirement for 14 tanks. Yes this may just be the thin edge of the edge but one must assume there are good, solid operational reasons behind their stated need for a handful of tanks.

    (My first response to the tank deployment was surprise that tanks would be preferred over additional helicopter gunship effort. On reflection my thinking was that tanks were a means of defeating the ROE limitations on the use of CAS. And good to see some debate on this matter.)

    The word helicopter was never mentioned in the article. He said:
    "we must allow them to use Humvees, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and ruggedized pickup trucks when appropriate."
    When I went on and on about the IED threat some months back my position was that when faced with a "road-side bomb" threat then stay away from the road-side as far as possible. Despite the Brits having largely neutralised the Northern Ireland IED (road-side bomb) threat through the intelligent use of helicopters they did not carry this success over to Afghanistan and them and the US seemed in a state of tactical paralysis as they sat back and took alarming and largely unnecessary casualties. I included IEDs aimed at foot patrols then but they do not fall under of the subject of this thread.

    He gets a little further off course when he writes:
    "When I raised such points in planning meetings, my coalition colleagues often asked how then I proposed to "defeat" the IED. My initial response was that the question was wrong: We should not be trying to defeat the IED. Rather, we should be working to defeat the insurgency that plants them."
    Sure the "well how would you do it?" is the first response from those who haven't got the faintest idea of how to deal with the IED threat both to vehicles and foot patrols. (The same question was asked of me here by the equally clueless.)

    His answer was clever in a sense but did not address the then current tactical threat if IEDs. So he really needed to supply his answer as the long term goal but be prepared to provide some idea of a solution in the immediate term. He may not have in the meeting he speaks of but he ends his article as follows:

    We may not be able to "defeat" the IED, but we can make it irrelevant. To do so will require us to rely upon the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the junior leaders who are most in tune with the local dynamics and terrain, not on technology or defensive-minded mandates designed to prevent casualties at all costs. Marginalizing the IED will also require higher commanders to accept greater risk and allow their subordinates to sometimes make mistakes -- even deadly ones. But that's the only way to start connecting with the Afghan people, who are the ones who will defeat the Taliban in the end. It's time to start playing to win instead of trying to avoid losing.
    To make IEDs irrelevant you avoid them. To avoid "road-side bombs" you avoid roads (as far as possible and when faced with no other alternative use MRAP vehicles with the necessary support to respond aggressively to any ambush.)

    I learned during officer training that if during an assault of an enemy objective you find your platoon crossing a mine field (of the 1 mine per metre of frontage type) you continue to press on with your assault and accept 10% casualties. Now the Brits believe in many areas of Afghanistan they are in fact patrolling in a "medium minefield". My response is well then don't do it... avoid such areas.

    How to avoid IEDs while still getting the job done? Well ask these junior commanders what they believe will do the trick. If he can't give you an answer put him on the next flight home (not reassigned... OUT!) Force these often complaining junior commanders to use their initiative or get lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Outside of a few spectacular successes along Route 1 that have garnered more media hype than had actual effect, the TB aren't very good at targeting the logistical tail. These are not your Daddy's mujahadeen.
    Now here's a good point.

    The comparison between the TB and the mujahadeen. Are the skills of the mujahadeen being elevated by comparison to the TB because they were fighting a rather poor soviet contingent or is there real evidence as to their military superiority?

    Clever insurgents should be going after stuff rather than people but maybe the TB living in the shadow of the mujahadeen are trying to achieve too much and have drifted away from the basics? [/QUOTE]

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    Superiority is relative. The TB were deprived of most of their repertoire because it's too risky against the Westerners. What's left are petty harassing and delaying actions.

    The Mujahedeen faced a more permissive enemy, especially in regard to sensor technology.



    The convoy losses comparison is afaik rather misleading, for the Soviets were actually escorting their own truck with MRD personnel and equipment, while much of the modern-day convoys are afaik regional truckers moving from one bribery checkpoint to the next.



    JMA; avoiding IEDs won't help much either on the strategic level. De-valueing this tool in the TB's repertoire would merely push them to emphasis what's left of their repertoire; that would be attacks on ANA/ANP/officials plus mafia-like subversion, the maintenance of a parallel state.
    The Western missions would drag on and on and on ... because nobody has the balls to make a step back and lure the TB out into the open and defeat them once they become cocky enough to be defeated.
    Instead everybody is fixated on reducing the TB's options more and more and more in pursuit of - what exactly? You cannot defeat someone who doesn't dare to fight you any more. That exact situation is no victory either, for the enemy has still other options.

  11. #311
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    Some of this discussion is departing reality and is taking on a curmudegonly "Back in the day ..." aspect devoid of reality,

    It is impossible to operate in a country the size of California without using vehicles with the limited troop densities we have. Allied troops are not as inept at C-IED as JMA suggests, there are a raft of TTPs and Techniques that more often than not prevent IED deaths. While IEDs are responsible for 90 some percent of casualties, the actual numbers are quite low given the number of daily patrols and movements going on.

    Platoon Leaders and company commanders are not blindly walking into IED hotspots writ large as you suggest. There are always a few bone-headed leaders. Media doesn't report houses that don't burn down, or patrols not hit by IEDs.

    This isn't to say we can't or shouldn't improve, but really. You suggest I walk my troops from, say, Spin Boldak to Kandahar on patrol? Who is divorced from reality here?

    Come on. The criticism to be made here isn't of the tactical TTPs, but of the strategy employed. If you haven't noticed, for all the hubub about Keating and Wanat, over the past year a number of patrol bases were attacked by large numbers in an attempt to repeat those episodes, and in every case the enemy was routed. So our tactical game has improved markedly. There are many, many other examples of successful C-IED and such out there. We adapt, they adapt. As it always has been.

    It doesn't mean things are getting better overall. It doesn't mean we're going to win. But the grandstanding going on here is getting silly and divorced from reality and fueled by nostalgia and dreams.
    Last edited by Cavguy; 11-28-2010 at 10:37 PM.
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  12. #312
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    How to avoid IEDs while still getting the job done? Well ask these junior commanders what they believe will do the trick. If he can't give you an answer put him on the next flight home (not reassigned... OUT!) Force these often complaining junior commanders to use their initiative or get lost.
    I would say armchair generals need to put up or get lost, and provide me the evidence of these "complaining junior leaders". I work with a lot of them who give it their all every day and do quite well, thank you very much.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    I would say armchair generals need to put up or get lost, and provide me the evidence of these "complaining junior leaders". I work with a lot of them who give it their all every day and do quite well, thank you very much.
    Did you read the article?

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    I can't imagine why Cavguy might suggest this thread is getting divorced from reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    The Royal Danish Army has a mechanised infantry battalion in Helmand ...
    There is nothing like a Dane
    Nothing in the world
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    That is anything like a Dane

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Superiority is relative. The TB were deprived of most of their repertoire because it's too risky against the Westerners. What's left are petty harassing and delaying actions.

    The Mujahedeen faced a more permissive enemy, especially in regard to sensor technology.

    The convoy losses comparison is afaik rather misleading, for the Soviets were actually escorting their own truck with MRD personnel and equipment, while much of the modern-day convoys are afaik regional truckers moving from one bribery checkpoint to the next.
    Given the mercenary nature of the TB I am surprised that they to not go after soft targets such as these convoys as there must be much looting potential.

    But on this particular topic I got the sense from Jon's post that he felt that the mujahadeen were superior to today's TB. I was hoped he would explain that.

    JMA; avoiding IEDs won't help much either on the strategic level. De-valueing this tool in the TB's repertoire would merely push them to emphasis what's left of their repertoire; that would be attacks on ANA/ANP/officials plus mafia-like subversion, the maintenance of a parallel state.
    The Western missions would drag on and on and on ... because nobody has the balls to make a step back and lure the TB out into the open and defeat them once they become cocky enough to be defeated.
    Instead everybody is fixated on reducing the TB's options more and more and more in pursuit of - what exactly? You cannot defeat someone who doesn't dare to fight you any more. That exact situation is no victory either, for the enemy has still other options.
    It seems that the H-word (helicopter) must not be mentioned when it comes to Afghanistan. It seems the options are either driving or walking but never a word of flying. Why?

    Is the problem not that the ANA/ANP are so damn useless that the areas pacified by the ISAF troops will never totally secured? So what exactly is the point of all this military action under these circumstances?

    Back to the point. The troops should be going after the TB. If the "black army" can locate and kill TB leadership then the logical next step is to kill the rank and file as well?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Some of this discussion is departing reality and is taking on a curmudegonly "Back in the day ..." aspect devoid of reality,

    It is impossible to operate in a country the size of California without using vehicles with the limited troop densities we have. Allied troops are not as inept at C-IED as JMA suggests, there are a raft of TTPs and Techniques that more often than not prevent IED deaths. While IEDs are responsible for 90 some percent of casualties, the actual numbers are quite low given the number of daily patrols and movements going on.
    The one thing for certain is that Iraq and Afghanistan will be remembered for IEDs. That such a high percentage of casualties were inflicted through IEDs and that it took so long to make any impression on IED casualties or to alter tactics to reduce the exposure of troops to IEDs will not reflect well on the forces involved. This is such a pity.

    Platoon Leaders and company commanders are not blindly walking into IED hotspots writ large as you suggest. There are always a few bone-headed leaders. Media doesn't report houses that don't burn down, or patrols not hit by IEDs.
    Michael Waltz's article appeals for junior commanders to be "freed" to use their initiative to alter the tactical methods of deployment to ensure they can serve their whole AO. There appears to be too much top down control in his experience.

    This isn't to say we can't or shouldn't improve, but really. You suggest I walk my troops from, say, Spin Boldak to Kandahar on patrol? Who is divorced from reality here?
    Here's a novel thought... fly. Insert here... uplift there. As Waltz suggests, use initiative.

    Come on. The criticism to be made here isn't of the tactical TTPs, but of the strategy employed. If you haven't noticed, for all the hubub about Keating and Wanat, over the past year a number of patrol bases were attacked by large numbers in an attempt to repeat those episodes, and in every case the enemy was routed. So our tactical game has improved markedly. There are many, many other examples of successful C-IED and such out there. We adapt, they adapt. As it always has been.
    It doesn't mean things are getting better overall. It doesn't mean we're going to win. But the grandstanding going on here is getting silly and divorced from reality and fueled by nostalgia and dreams.[/QUOTE]

    Waltz's contention is:
    This is a very unconventional war being waged in the most difficult terrain possible, and we are responding very conventionally. Instead of allowing such ingenuity and its associated risk, the coalition's default response has been to add more armor and widgets to ever larger vehicles that are the very antithesis of basic counterinsurgency operations.
    Is he correct?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The one thing for certain is that Iraq and Afghanistan will be remembered for IEDs. That such a high percentage of casualties were inflicted through IEDs and that it took so long to make any impression on IED casualties or to alter tactics to reduce the exposure of troops to IEDs will not reflect well on the forces involved. This is such a pity.
    Not ENTIRELY true. I know we began working it when they first appeared in '03. IEDs are immensely hard to find. We did counter several rounds of IEDs successfully - Remote controlled morphed to command wire morphed to pressure plate morphed to EFP. Each time they became harder to effectively counter.

    That said, our COIN understanding didn't evolve at the same rate as our counter-IED ability. We could defeat the device but not prevent exponentially more from being placed until we changed our methods.



    Michael Waltz's article appeals for junior commanders to be "freed" to use their initiative to alter the tactical methods of deployment to ensure they can serve their whole AO. There appears to be too much top down control in his experience.
    Perhaps. I haven't served in Afghanistan (yet) but will let you know next summer. I know the unit I am replacing actually allows its soldiers to ride along in the back of Afghan Police Pickup trucks on patrol. Command risk acceptance is highly, highly chain of command driven. Additionally, the unit I will be replacing does a very high amount of dismounted patrols despite being a Stryker element. As will all war accounts, MAJ Waltz (with whom I only partially disagree overall), it reflects his experience in one place at one time, and not the larger picture.


    Here's a novel thought... fly. Insert here... uplift there. As Waltz suggests, use initiative.
    Damn! We never thought of that!

    Would be nice if we actually had enough helicopters. Unfortunately we don't, and won't until Iraq is finished. Iraq sucked down most of the army's Aviation asset. Until 2009-10, Iraq consumed 80% of the U.S. Army's combat forces of all kinds, while Afghanistan remained a secondary effort. We are only seeing change now.

    Is he correct?
    I don't think so. He is right we need to engage the populace. The as Wilf says above, the vehicles are not the problem. The leadership in such cases is.

    In any Army of 400,000 you're going to get a diversity of outcomes. 25% of your commanders will be brilliant and aggressive. 50% will do mediocre or well. and the bottom 25% will not get it or do poorly. In the aggregate, we're doing much, much better in the the tactics department. Afghanistan is finally getting the Army's full attention, and we are seeing marked improvements in performance as a result.

    My BLUF is that anytime someone chimes in "all we need to do" or "if just" my BS flag goes up. Most of it has been tried. There are real constraints in the real world - equipment, time, resources, etc. that constrain the optimal solution and walks us to the possible. As resources have been added to Afghanistan you are seeing this uptick.

    Ultimately, even if we had the best tactics in the world it really matters little because our strategy is wholly unrealistic. Getting exercised over tactical innovations (which will soon be countered) as "the solution" is silly. People are treating the addition of 14 tanks as some sort of strategic shift? Really? It's a tactical answer to a tactical problem in one region where the tool fits. MAJ Waltz and others are overreacting to their introduction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Ultimately, even if we had the best tactics in the world it really matters little because our strategy is wholly unrealistic. Getting exercised over tactical innovations (which will soon be countered) as "the solution" is silly. People are treating the addition of 14 tanks as some sort of strategic shift? Really? It's a tactical answer to a tactical problem in one region where the tool fits. MAJ Waltz and others are overreacting to their introduction.
    Thank you.

    We've seen term a "strategy of tactics" before. Condcuting one is foolish and proposing one is shallow. I've seen examples of it from both the "pro-COIN" and the "COIN skeptics" sides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Command risk acceptance is highly, highly chain of command driven.
    Are these decisions made at battalion-level in the Army?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Would be nice if we actually had enough helicopters. Unfortunately we don't, and won't until Iraq is finished. Iraq sucked down most of the army's Aviation asset. Until 2009-10, Iraq consumed 80% of the U.S. Army's combat forces of all kinds, while Afghanistan remained a secondary effort. We are only seeing change now.
    Do we still maintain as national policy that our military should be able to fight two regional, mid-sized wars (Korea + 1) at a time? I remember that was the case when I was in high school (over 10 years ago), but don't know if it still is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
    Are these decisions made at battalion-level in the Army?



    Do we still maintain as national policy that our military should be able to fight two regional, mid-sized wars (Korea + 1) at a time? I remember that was the case when I was in high school (over 10 years ago), but don't know if it still is.
    #1. Pretty sure the answer is no in many cases. Most likely, it gets "held" at Brigade level or higher.

    #2. Not sure, but the "current" situation (2001-2010) would indicate that fighting two wars at the same time, particularily for extended periods, are the limit. Could we respond with more then a bobtailed division of a couple of BCTs a small fires Bde, a small Maneuver Enhancement Bde, an Avaition Bde and a small Sustainment Bde?

    While probably within our capability, there are alot of other reasons why we dodn't have more then UAVs above Yemen and SOF guys on the ground.

    IMO, if no war in Iraq from 2003-to ... then we would currently have 50-60,000 troops on the ground hunting down more underwear bombers.

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