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Old 11-24-2011   #21
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I've heard a rumor that the 81st HBCT might be converting to a SBCT - anyone here have info?

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Old 12-28-2011   #22
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Default Round-out battalions instead of brigades

It's my understanding that round-out battalions were used in the 70's, but did suffer from readiness and recruitment issues. In today's fight are round-out battalions practical/feasible? Would it work to place all RC maneuver battalions and attached CS/CSS under operational command of an AC BCT for combat, but RC divisions would have administrative control of the battalions for drills, natural disasters, etc?
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Old 12-29-2011   #23
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I've heard a rumor that the 81st HBCT might be converting to a SBCT - anyone here have info?

Happy Thanksgiving!
While it would make sense (We get a LOT of guys from 2ID and even our 2nd batt guys are familier with Strykers) we just got upgraded to a new type of Bradley and are going through a year plus cycle to get everyone "qualified" on it. This is one of the reasons I disagree with Ken about HBCT's belonging in the NG. Light Infantry, Aviation, MP, Medical, Engineering, etc, all have dual use ability (How exactly are you going to use M1's and M3's during a state emergency?) and are units that we typically have understrength after a shooting war turns to OOTW, UW or COIN. HCBT's also cost quit a bit to maintain becouse the equipment maintanaince needs don't change much, nor does the required rounds fired per year... SO I'm of the opinion that AC should be Heavy units, especially on the old armoured Cav model and rapid deployment forces to augment the USMC's ability in that area, and RC should be primarly the types of units mentioned above.
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Old 01-25-2012   #24
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As long as we keep the Guard relevant during ARFORGEN cycle green years, by sending them to NTC/Hoenfels/JRTC, the HBCT will work in the National Guard. If there's not a goal to work towards, it doesn't what type of BCT is out there.

I still think a handful of HBCTs should be kept on the AC side though - just for mobile operation. Maybe rotate the funds per quarter or 1/2-year for each AC HBCT to be completely ready and capable to conduct tank-on-tank battle, and allow the others to perform maneuver/tank tables less. This may sound absurd to some AC guys, but ARNG does this all the time.
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Old 01-25-2012   #25
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Default Before there was an NTC...

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I still think a handful of HBCTs should be kept on the AC side though - just for mobile operation. Maybe rotate the funds per quarter or 1/2-year for each AC HBCT to be completely ready and capable to conduct tank-on-tank battle, and allow the others to perform maneuver/tank tables less. This may sound absurd to some AC guys, but ARNG does this all the time.
The AC used force on force training constantly -- produced better units more able to operate flexibly IMO. Canned stuff has its limitations even with a 'world class OPFOR'. Donated training has some advantages; it also has some disadvantages...

One size fits all does not work in fairly intense combat.

What Reed says above makes sense. If the Army Reserve still had combat units, that would be the ideal place for RC HBCTs and the Guard could have light Inf, MPs aEngineers and Medics for State missions. However, the ArNG didn't want the USAR to have such units and won that battle (another example of "be careful what you want..."). So the ArNG gets stuck with some HBCTs -- since that heavy stuff is a Federal need and since the Feds pay about 90% ± of the total cost of the Guard, I guess it's a fair trade...

Generally, RC units cannot train as thoroughly and have some problems with readiness compared to AC units (though I've seen RC units that could outperform some AC elements...) but that's okay -- an RC HBCT can get trained up and deploy a whole lot faster than the AC could recruit, equip, train and deploy one from scratch. Typically, RC elements cost about 25% of their AC counterparts costs, you get what you pay for and what we get is more than good enough -- far better than a lot folks active units.
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Old 01-25-2012   #26
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Lending my concurrence to Ken's comments.

When I left the Regular Army to attend law school I joined the Oregon Guard and was assigned to a light infantry brigade. I have to admit I went through a couple years of shock as I adjusted to the different mission, different priorities, and different strengths and weaknesses between Regular and Guard units. Many soldiers don't survive that transition, a few of us, however actually come to understand and appreciate the differences and then work to use our skills and experience gained in the regular force to help make things better, without falling into the trap of thinking the AC way is the only way.

I found that (prior to AC trainers descending in mass and demanding that Guard units train to AC standards of collective training) Guard units were full of soldiers who had superior skills in certain areas. Forward observers who could drop a round on your helmet; howitzer and FDC crews who had worked together for years and, while a motley mob moving from position to position, were lights out at working their gun or generating data. Pilots with the innate skills of one who both loves what he does, and has done it for a long time. Then came the Readiness Training Brigades of AC soldiers who could only see the lack of collective training (which is a post-mob task, but try explaining that to some AC Major-Colonel with all the answers). It was sad to watch individual and section skills fade as scant training time was shifted to efforts focused on higher-level collective tasks. We broke up the solid foundation of these units in order to build a shaky structure of collective skills on top. It looked better to the AC trainers, but to me it looked like the Western town in the movie Blazing Saddles: All false fronts with little behind it that was real. Even today we see the conventional force seeking to build such a force with the ANA. Instead of helping them better at being an Afghan Army (which probably would have been largely militia-based and recruited, trained and employed at the local level), we have set about attemting to build a much less effective version of an American Regular Army.

Having been on the receive end of GPF FID/SFA I came to appreciate very much the difference in approach between what I had been selected, trained and employed to do as an SF officer and what I was getting from my former conventional peers. SF tends to accept people as they are, seek to understand their culture and situation, and then incorporate into the same while helping them to be as good as possible within that construct. GPF soldiers tend to judge others by the standard of how similar US units perform a task, with little consideration for why the unit they are working with might be different, and then assesses the unit to be inferior. They then isolate themselves in little enclaves and proceed to attempt to push the unit to the same tasks, but dumbed down to a level within in the means of such an inferior organization. Eight years of being on the receive end of GPF FID is one of the main reasons why I am not optimistic at all about the big push in recent years for SFA...

But for all its faults, the Guard is a great American institution. Great Americans, great soldiers, and many of my closest lifelong friends. They own the domestic mission of supplementing our civil service in times of domestic emergency; and they also own the mission of supplementing our Regular military and draftee armies in times of foreign emergency. Sad that the Regular force sees the Guard as a threat to the Regular force, rather than as a vital component of our national security in both peace and war.

I hope we can shake off the bad habits of the past 15 years of mobilizing and deploying Guard and Reserve units for peacetime deployments. Counter intuitively, I think it will be through making the Regular Army smaller that we break this habit. Keeping a war fighting army on the shelf tends to make it a COA we use too often. We make better decisions when Presidents have to ask Congress to mobilize or build an army before they can employ it. It is time to finally bring the Cold War army home and return to a more normal, appropriate, American approach to national security. Large standing armies have little place in that model.
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Old 01-25-2012   #27
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Default Echoing Bob's World.

Those Readiness Training Brigades are a beautiful example of unintended consequences and flawed training strategies.

They were created in the wake of Desert Storm during which the Active Army fough stupidly and successfully to avoid deploying ArNG comabt units by insisting they had to go through the NTC. One Brigade was about to be declared operationally ready -- much to the chagrin of Binny Peay and Carl Vuono -- when the war ended, thus the issue became moot. That fiasco resulted in Congress passing a law that instituted those Readiness Training Brigades and a very wrong emphasis on collective skills. One AC GO called a Congressional Staffer he knew and asked what on earth Congress meant by that convoluted law. The response was that Congress wanted to make sure that in future wars, the ArNG was used as that would justify the costs. The GO replied "Well, you've screwed the pooch. You should have passed a law that said that. What you've done is create a monster that won't do what you want, will be terribly expensive, will harm both the AC and the RC and will create as many problems as it solves." He was horrifyingly right...

We simply do not train the basics well, AC or RC. We insist on teaching folks how to run before they can crawl, much less walk. I recall watching the 1-17th Infantry make a heliborne assault at Nightmare Range in the ROK some years ago. Great job, looked like a Benning training film. This from a Battalion that did not know how to employ, maintain or even dismount its M113s or conduct competent dismounted patrols.

However, they had good PT scores, could do great dog and pony shows and sent all their Platoon Leaders to Motor Stables.

Mayhap if we force the AC to become smaller, we can find time for everyone to become better...
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Old 01-26-2012   #28
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Mayhap if we force the AC to become smaller, we can find time for everyone to become better...[/QUOTE]


I believe this ties into the mechanized infantry thread and whether or not the U.S. Army should have the 11B mos and the 11M mos. IMO, if the AC army downsized and RC infantry specialized, a large portion of the heavy forces could be moved to the RC and there would not be a loss of fighting ability/effectiveness.
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Old 11-26-2012   #29
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As many here know the British Army is downsizing and going though a reorganization in which it will have a reaction force of three active mechanized brigades (1xarmor, 2xmech, 1xcav, 1xmotorized) and the 16th air assault brigade; and an adaptable force consisting of active light infantry and TA light infantry and cav.

See:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=16516

The Australian Army is reorganizing into three active duty multi functional brigades with each active brigade supported by two reserve brigades. The Canadian Army has something similar.

Could this be the future of the U.S. Army - 14-15 AC brigades supported by 28-30 brigades? Is this a feasible future Total Force structure?

Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-26-2012 at 09:44 AM. Reason: Link added by Moderator
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Old 04-30-2013   #30
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Default Going Back to "Peactime" Guard/Reserve Training

This thread has gone quiet for a while now so I figure that I would stir the pot. And just for brevity's sake I will be referring to the Reserves because that is what I know, but most of what I am talking about includes the National Guard as well.

I left the regular AC army and went straight into a RC Training Support Battalion (CS/CSS). I have now witnessed this whole issue first hand. During my first year at my unit (2010-2011), it was a ghost town. Half the unit was mob'd to the nearest readiness center (pulling guard duty or some BS) and the other half was sitting on their fourth point of contact with no mission because the Reserves hadn't validated its own units since 2004/5. To make matters worse, our unit was so understrength at our home station that our AC numbers were just about even with the RC. Forget about training. In those circumstances, the culture shock alone is enormous. The officers are usually pretty politic and understanding, but the NCO's....lets just say we had one SFC come straight from Drill Sergeant duty and it was a rough couple of BA weekends. I know as a Captain, I just breathed deeply, kept my opinions to myself, and shifted my “no major changes rule” from 90 days to a year.

Break to 18 months ago. We reflagged under a new brigade and were told that we would be supporting Reserve unit training. We ramped up our basic soldiering skills and then tackled the essential unit non-specific platoon collective tasks along with our OC/T specific tasks (you have to know what to look for before you can evaluate it, and some NCO and Officers needed some refreshing). End result, our unit just helped train a bunch of Reservists for the first time in 8 years. Job well done.

Here some preliminary impressions:

-All Reserve units are eaten alive by “DA Mandatory Annual Training”, its insane. I think we lose the equivalent of two to three Battle Assemblies in a year to these classes. I wish they were biennial for us part-timers.
-Reservists operate at a much faster tempo than the AC, we always try to cram 4 days of events in one weekend (and sometimes we succeed). AC can tend to waste time (make work).
-Maintaining individual and team skills is really all that should be expected from Reservists during the year. The two weeks of annual training are for raising a prioritzed list of collective tasks (METL) from a U to a P. I don't believe in double standards and there is no circumstance where a unit that only works together 38 days a year can be called a “T” on collective tasks when compared to the Active Component or deployed Reservists. A “T” is earned through repetition, repetition, repetition. Realistic expectations shared by all would be appreciated.
-The Active Component is valuable for training Reservists, but holy carumba, they need to remember that weak leadership is not the same as absent leadership. People forget how long it took them to develop leadership skills. It is an organic process that cannot be taught, only trial and error experience works.

My last comment is more general. Except for a few time/resource intensive units (airborne, air assault, special forces, etc.) the Army and the Nation would be well served by keeping a 4:3:3 (Active:Reserve:Guard) ratio of all unit types. Besides ensuring that skills and equipment are spread throughout the force there is a political motive. Too much Active Component and you end up in situations where we are fighting three wars simultaneously with no democratic incentive to stop the fighting. Not enough Active Component and you could lose the next war.

I have many more thoughts on the matter but this is starting to drift into a rant and I will stop right there. For those who thought this was a rant a while ago, my apologies. I am curious to hear any other stories about the AC/RC clash of cultures.
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Old 04-30-2013   #31
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Not a rant - quite interesting comments. Some I did not understand, but for the most part I was tracking. I did time in the Marine Corps AC/RC from 88-96. I do agree with the faster pace. We crammed more crap into a weekend then we did in a couple of weeks on the active side - outside of field training.

How the future force is organized and ratio of active to reserve will be interesting to see. How did you come up with a 4:3:3 ratio?
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Old 05-01-2013   #32
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Been awhile but saw something I wanted to comment on...

Background 12 years of active-duty followed by 18 years of RC duty (all Army Reserve). Three years with an AC/AR Training Support Bn.

a. Very different "cultures" across all three compos, AC, USAR and Army Guard (have a son with them). AC is very "its our way or the highway" focused. Have little to no appreciation (or concern) for what it takes to be an "RC guy/gal". No AC unit has to recruit its own folks. No AC troop has another career/job that impacts on decision making. AC folks normally don't have to pay the cost of traveling to and staying with their unit.

b. RC guy and gals who stay past 12-15 years have a greater level of dedication and committment. For many, the rest of their life (family, job school ect) fills up their plate and they leave. And the RC losses experienced commpetent mid-grade NCOs and officers. We operate with whats left...

c. Two days a month to get 20+ days (AC guys get weekends off) of stuff done is a b!tch. Not going to change.

d. Lots of RC folks are better at their job then their AC counter-parts due to being in the job longer or doing the same thing as a civilian. Especially true of E4s and E5s.

e. RC folks and their units bring a second set of skills with them. Whatever their "regular job" is. Need an IT geek ask jones over in 3rd squad. Need a carpenter go see Fred in 1st platoon ect. They also tend to be older (I know) and more mature then their AC compadres.

f. 4:3:3 may be good for some types of units but not "all". Does the AC need 40% of the water production capability on a daily basis or just the ability to get it within 30 days? Same for Civil Affairs, construction engineering, internment/re-settlement ect. If we stay with the current execution of Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) where an RC unit gets mobbed about once every 4-6 years for up to a year we can probably do OK. 40/60 split for Combat Arms (Armor, Infantry & Artillery) OK (No ADA! Do away with it or send it to the Air Force), 40/60 split for Combat Support (MPs, Engineers, Chem, MI, Aviation) OK, 40/60 split for CSS (Finance, Postal, Personnel ect) no way.

g. Struture of the three compos is VERY political. (Duh). AC wants near instant access to whatever they need whenever they need it. Guard wants whatever the governers want/need and whatever NGB gives them. USAR just wants to survive.

h. After a 30-60 day training period, most if not all RC units can and do preform at least as well as their AC counter-parts. After the third time I heard "Wow you don't act like a reservists" I started to get PO'ed.
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Old 05-01-2013   #33
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TAH,
I am so glad that it is not just my unit that sees the same things. On your points A-E, G and H... I agree 100%.

Getting to the theme of this whole thread. Point F. Here are my juicy details for my vision of a 4:3:3 split (as requested, gute).

So I have started by breaking the whole Army into 10 (very rough) parts. I start with the ARFORGEN cycle. So we keep the AC units on the reset/train, ready, available cycle. These are parts 1, 2, and 3. If you view the cycle like this then you will have a trio of every kind of unit. Then I add part 4, the whole non-deployable, but completely essential apparatus of the Army. Pentagon staff, drill sergeant battalions etc.

Next comes the Reserves and National Guard. Why make the Reserves the same size as the National Guard? Money. The AC always wants more troops and equipment. Are they going to get it? Of course not. That isn't how beans and bullets work in Congress. So increase the Reserves for 25% of the price. If a future war requires more soldiers, mobilize the reserves first. There is so much AC/RC integration going on nowadays it isn't that much of a stretch. When things get worse, you can call up the National Guard.

Now to the issue of force composition. When you take out the AC non-deployable units we actually have a 3:3:3 structure. I agree with TAH, there are some units that just don't belong in the RC. Airborne brigades go to the AC, Special Forces are much more numerous in the AC. Aviation units are definitely more numerous in the AC. The common theme is that these units are high training tempo with very perishable skills. Because of this, the RC will have a few more CS and CSS units to maintain a personnel balance.

Despite my last point, I disagree with TAH on his point about the support elements. The decision to fill up the Reserves with the CSS units the AC didn't want anymore is reflective of old thinking which no longer holds after the last 10 years of experience. I am of the opinion that CSS units, because they are constructive not destructive, are the only tool that can be used to maintain stability and security. All of the tools needed to fight every type of conflict should be as evenly distributed as possible. The end result would be something like 25-30% of the CSS units would be AC. The big change would be leveling out the Guard and Reserve.
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Old 05-01-2013   #34
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Question: If the Reserves / National Guard can train up to almost active forces level within 60 days, why bother with active forces in the army at all?

The pointless expeditionary stuff is being done by Marines, and the quickest relevant response to a crisis will come from the USAF and naval aviation anyway.


Why not upgrade the NG to THE army (with two weekends per month, one two-week exercise per year and by constitutional amendment no compulsory deployment outside of the 50 states without a declaration of war)?
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Old 05-01-2013   #35
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Question: If the Reserves / National Guard can train up to almost active forces level within 60 days, why bother with active forces in the army at all?

The pointless expeditionary stuff is being done by Marines, and the quickest relevant response to a crisis will come from the USAF and naval aviation anyway.


Why not upgrade the NG to THE army (with two weekends per month, one two-week exercise per year and by constitutional amendment no compulsory deployment outside of the 50 states without a declaration of war)?
You'd have to use the Reserves for your idea. Plainly put, the NG has two chains of command. And a constitutional amendment? Good luck with that.
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Old 05-01-2013   #36
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
Question: If the Reserves / National Guard can train up to almost active forces level within 60 days, why bother with active forces in the army at all?

The pointless expeditionary stuff is being done by Marines, and the quickest relevant response to a crisis will come from the USAF and naval aviation anyway.


Why not upgrade the NG to THE army (with two weekends per month, one two-week exercise per year and by constitutional amendment no compulsory deployment outside of the 50 states without a declaration of war)?
Good idea, but we have a lot of people who already question why we have a Marine Corps. Others have floated the idea here and other places about maintaining the Spec Ops command as organized and relying on large reserve/ng for protracted, conventional high end conflict. My issue with that idea is finding enough qualified people to fill all the ranks. The Navy doesn't seem to have too much of a problem bringing in new tadpoles and raising frogman, but what about SF and Delta or CAG or whatever they are called now? Rangers have been young guys for years so that's easy.

Two weekends a month might be too disruptive for a normal life, especailly if one is already working a full-time job. If we were to go to a shorter work week like 32 hours it would probably be more attractive.
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Old 05-02-2013   #37
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Good idea, but we have a lot of people who already question why we have a Marine Corps. […] Rangers have been young guys for years so that's easy.
The Marine Corps has been around for 237 years, the Ranger Regiment for 27 years. Which one is more dispensable?
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Old 05-02-2013   #38
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Asked/said another way....

Why a USMC AND a AC Army AND a Army NG AND a USAR?

Do we need and can we afford all four?

Really is the Army NG is not going to go away. 50 governers and the DC plus Puerta Rico and Guam will stop that.

The Army brings capabilities to the table the USMC do not. Ability to do battalion and larger airborne ops, the ability to do bigger then a division heavy/armored ops, LOTS of CSS and medical. USMC relies alot on both the Navy and the Army for "overhead". Who does USMC medical? The Army supports the USMC by providing training base support (tankers and artilleryman for a start).

Why not a USMC that is 100% AC at 250K (or so) and an Army?Army Guard at 300K AC and 700K NG. No USAR (too much redundant overhead). Continue current ARFORGEN to allow Army to "right size" itself through mob, not AC end strenght.

Army would end up with:

1.An AC division HQs in Europe with two AC BCTs and some number of NG BCTs rotated in/out.

2. An AC division HQs in Korea with troops as is

3. An AC division HQs either in Hawaii or Fort Lewis for Pac Rim forces.

4. Two AC divisions HQ for Army first responders (82nd and a heavy/armored division).
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Old 05-04-2013   #39
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Default Leviathan and System Administrator after a short aside

As mentioned earlier, the Constitution and politics will ultimately prevent the dissolution of the National Guard. In addition, the Reserves will probably always be around to some degree or another because it is a nice place to store unwanted, but necessary, capabilities when money gets tight (it applies to every branch).

To add some anecdotal evidence to another debate... logistical issues will always necessitate the existence of the Army. I worked for a logistics Major who would tell stories about how the Marines were begging Army log units for support during the initial weeks of the Iraq Invasion. Once the Marines get too far from the Navy, their CSS situation goes down the toilet. That is how they are able to maintain such a large tooth to tail ratio on paper. By the same token, there will always be a force that looks like the Marines and it will occupy that 200 mile strip of land between the ocean and the interior. I am willing to accept that fact and let them do their own thing (but can we please standardize weapons and uniforms between Army and Marines?)

Back to AC/RC structure. I am surprised that nobody in this thread has brought up Tom Barnett and the Leviathan/System Administrator structure. If you agree with his views of globalization and the US's role in the world system, it would seem that the AC/RC structure would be a great place to start tailoring the armed forces to perform those duties. His TED talk is a great summary of his line of thinking and offers a quick and dirty breakdown of AC/RC forces which is pertinent to this thread.http://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_barn...for_peace.html

If you followed Barnett's plan the AC Army would have the large majority of the Leviathan units (Special Forces, Maneuver BCTs, Fires, Combat Aviation, and Battlefield Surveillance) and the RC/NG would have most of the Sys-Admin units (Maneuver Enhancement Brigades, Sustainment Brigades, etc.) I can see MP and Engineer units being particularly valuable for a Sys-Admin force because of their dual nature (MP's and Combat Engineers relish their secondary “Fight as Infantry” mission.) When paired up with the Marines we have a force that could handle just about anything in a low-intensity conflict zone. The AC Army divisional headquarters' would be spread out by region roughly as TAH described it and paired with a joint-interagency Sys-Admin headquarters (which helps with contingency planning). The RC component and Marines would fall under the Sys-Admin joint headquarters during the mobilization.

I don't see this force mixture occurring anytime soon because the end result would make the AC Army much smaller (same size as AC Marine Corps perhaps?). This would be possible because there would be no need for 12 month deployments. The Leviathan force would crush countries like Iraq in a couple months and come straight back home. The RC/NG and the Marines would be a far larger component, personnel wise, because they would have to sustain long deployments repeatedly.

The more I write about it, the more I have to give Barnett credit. It seems like an elegant solution to many problems. Maintaining the skill sets and collective tasks needed to perform low-intensity warfare at a high level requires far less time and resources than maintaining those needed for high-intensity ops.
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Old 05-05-2013   #40
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I read Barnett's book when it first came out and I have watched the linked video before. Personally, I have not mentioned Barnett or his ideas because I don't agree with him. IMO Barnett has spent too much time traveling around the world hearing about what our military should be from people that don't necessarily have our best interests in mind and it has clouded his judgement.

I believe the U.S. has been at war since 1950 and the major threat collapsed in 1989. IMO the total maneuver force of AC, USANG and USMC would be the size of the pre-9/11 AC Army - roughly 100 maneuver battalions. All divisions become one large brigade (10xAC, 8xRC, 3xUSMC, 1xUSMCR) plus the 173rd, 2ACR, 3ACR and 11ACR. Special Ops Command would slim down a little by eliminating redundant mission sets.

The tricky part now is the ratio of heavy to light. What takes more training an ABCT (HBCT) or IBCT? Do we need 12 airborne battalions? Is it easier to go from heavy to light than light to heavy? Can the heavy force size be based on OIF in 2003 - is more armor necessary?
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