The state of the Army

The US Army has been constantly at war since 2001. For nine years now, the Army has fought active campaigns on two separate fronts, and conducted warlike missions across the globe. The soldiers of the Army have endured a deployment rotation schedule that was unimaginable during my time of service. They have been hardened by combat, and seen their efforts sneered at by liberal and elites that have little comprehension of the hardships they face, and less inclination to learn.

The Army has changed in many ways. Virtually every piece of personal equipment a soldier uses today was not in the inventory, or at least not in widespread issue, in 2001. The  tasks and missions a soldier is called upon to execute today are far, far more complex than those an infantryman of the Cold War was expected to train for. But for all the changes in the force today, the basics are almost immutable. Learn how to shoot, move and communicate, and you can adapt and overcome anything else. Much of the Army’s training of late has been focused on CounterInsurgency Warfare. But we’re starting to see the Army lean back a little to conventional warfare (what the Army’s current doctrine calls “Full Spectrum Warfare”).

If a world crisis erupts affecting national security, the first U.S. unit ordered into action would almost certainly be the 82nd Airborne. The division is the nation’s designated “global response force” — what paratroopers call “the president’s 911 call.” One brigade is designated to be first on call — at the moment, the 3rd Brigade.

The paratroopers could be ordered to support special operations forces attempting to rescue civilians held by terrorists, or to assist an ally’s troops in a military crisis. They also could be sent to assist civilians in a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis.

They could face a showdown with a conventional army as well, Korb said. For instance, the Obama administration has said that military action against Iran is an option if that country continues to develop nuclear weapons.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Army is currently trying to read the tea leaves and discern what types of war it will have to fight in the future, and it will quite likely be a hybrid of conventional war and insurgency.

From the LA Times article:

“This is about as hard as it gets,” LaNeve said as his paratroopers boarded their planes. “If you can get this right, you can do anything.”

Like I’ve said before, it is a heck of a lot easier for a conventional force to downshift to COIN warfare than for a COIN force to cope with conventional war.


2 thoughts on “The state of the Army”

  1. Counterinsurgency is really an Infantry war and a successful COIN war will de-escalate to patrol actions. The same skills the Infantryman must have will be needed in COIN as well as “full spectrum” warfare. The people that tend to be “fifth wheels” are the Armor types. Tanks, for example, had little application in Vietnam. Infantry, overwhelmingly so. Infantry did move in M-113s on occassion, but they were vulnerable to B-40 rockert or RPGs. Col. Patton’s main claim to fame in Vietnam was getting his tanks buried in mud to their final drive.

  2. The danger is in letting the Armor and other skills rot. Not every place is insurgent-friendly as A-stan. large portions of the world are now urbanized.

    We’ll see more armies add irregular forces to their rosters. More “Terrorist” orgs that are in fact arms of states hostile to us. I’m with Brad, it’s better to have a smaller COIN force that can scale up then the other way around.

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