Before we get too involved in attacking institutions, perhaps it might be right and proper to suggest that the underlying issue here is not about failure of our Army. Perhaps the issue might be that no institutional effort can make up for trying over the past 10 years to fight too many wars with too few soldiers?
I don’t really want to discuss the recent killing of Afghani civilians, but aside from that, MG Scales has a point. We have a very small army, compared to history, and further, in that Army, there just aren’t a heck of a lot of riflemen. Under the old TO&E in an armored division of about 18,000 soldiers, less than 1000 were riflemen. The numbers are a lot better in a light division, but not fantastic.
Now, to maximize the combat power of those infantrymen, the use of combined arms, and a robust combat service support structure is critical. But the fact remains, there just aren’t that many trigger pullers in the Army. Back in 1999, there were only about 35,000 infantrymen in the Army. I can’t imagine the number is that much higher today. Imagine that. When you add in Marine riflemen, and a couple other Military Occupational Specialties that routinely engage in close combat operations, the burden of close combat falls on probably less than 100,000 servicemen. And that includes folks that are back home either recovering from deployment, or preparing for their next.
Is it any wonder I’m in awe of today’s young infantrymen?