The Army’s next enemy? Peace. – The Washington Post

The Army is emerging from 13 years of war, battle-tested but weary. It is under pressure from budget cuts, the return of nearly the entire force to domestic bases, and a nation wary of deploying land power after two long conflicts. Yet perhaps the most important challenge facing the Army is not about finances, logistics or public opinion, but about culture — its own.

A conflict looms between the Army’s wartime ethos of individual initiative and the bureaucratic malaise that peacetime brings. The Army is about to make an abrupt shift: from a sizable, well-resourced, forward-deployed, combat-focused force to a much smaller, austerely funded, home-stationed service. Training and preparation for war will take the place of actually waging it. The Army is moving from 13 straight years of playing in the Super Bowl to an indefinite number of seasons scrimmaging with itself.

While few in the service would prefer unending wartime deployments over some semblance of peace, the end of full-scale conflict brings unique challenges to those in uniform — especially to those millennials in active service who, since 2001, have experienced nothing but the adrenaline rush of an Army at war. This transition could weaken the Army’s warfighting capabilities and drive talented, combat-experienced young leaders from the force.

via The Army’s next enemy? Peace. – The Washington Post.

LTG Barno is spot on in this piece.

My study of the history of the Army in the immediate post-Vietnam era, and incidentally the evolution of AirLand Battle doctrine shows that the Army leadership then was well aware that they were seeing  a massive “brightsizing” where so much of the talent they wanted to keep left for greener pastures, and those that stayed behind were those least suited for it. It took a great deal of effort to keep a core of talent that could tolerate the burdens of petty bureaucracy and zero-defect mentality in the service long enough to reap the rewards of the Reagan era spending on defense.

There are some signs the Army is making the right choices now. H. R. McMaster’s tour at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, and subsequent promotion to Lieutenant General and his new job at Training and Doctrine Command suggests that Big Army wants to keep deep thinkers with initiative in key roles. He may not be getting groomed for future duty as Chief of Staff, but he’s certainly being groomed for something.

6 thoughts on “The Army’s next enemy? Peace. – The Washington Post”

  1. I can’t remember anyone that has been CG of TRADOC that went onto being Chief of Staff. Can you? Arguably, TRADOC is more important the CS slot anyway, even if it is more behind the scenes. There have been some very good people at TRADOC. The two that come to mind is Depuy who was there when I was at Flight School, and Franks in the 90s. I think either could have done a good job as CS, but I think their talents were better placed at TRADOC.

  2. Yeah, but Mad Max Thurman went from TRADOC commander to commander of SOUTHCOM and fought Just Cause. If he hadn’t of died of leukemia he probably would have ended up as CSA even though he tried to retire.

  3. For a corrective look, find the McMasters promotion history. ISTR the generals on his initial BG and LtG promotion boards passed him over both times. Very interesting.

    It took extraordinary efforts to promote him. Not sure where the effort came from, but it was welcome.

  4. I was wondering about McMaster myself. I heard him touted as a tactical genius and a great leader by civilian “experts” and I’ve seen the same about how he was passed over for promotion several times. Is he really that great a soldier? Or lucky politician?

  5. XBRADTC – you mention some work you did on the military reorganization and transition to AirLand Battle philosophy after Vietnam. I’d be very interested in reading that piece. I spent time with the 3/11th ACR on the border between E/W Germany, 1975 – 77 and have some first hand experience on how those changes effected the men in the green at that time. A little broader perspective would help me a lot in some writing I’m doing. — Thanks

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