The Army after tomorrow, cont’d

The Army after tomorrow, cont’d

Our colleague Matt Cox has still more detail on what the Army is considering as part of its build-down over the coming months and years, and perhaps the most important part is this number: 10.

Army officials are considering eliminating 10 brigade combat teams, Cox reports, and now the big question inside the service is exactly which ones will go away. Here’s what he wrote:

Currently, the Army’s active ground force is made up of 22 infantry BCTs, 15 heavy BCTs, seven Stryker BCTs and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which has been designated to transform into another Stryker BCT. For now, the Army plans to retain all of its Stryker BCTs. Stryker units are the largest in the BCT structure, with three maneuver battalions.

It’s still unclear which of the five heavy and five infantry BCTs the Army will cut from the active force, but combat capability and strategic location inside the U.S. and abroad are some of the considerations Army planners will look at when cutting, said the official who spoke to Military​.com.

Army leaders say 520,000 is the right number for the active component. Army planners would have to get very creative if the economic state of the country forces the service to cut to a number below 500,000, the senior Army official said.

“You’ve got to look at support brigades and headquarters elements,” the official said. Maybe “one HQ can take care of 10 units. We are looking at division, corps and theater assets.”

Did you catch that bit about how Big Army wants to build down to an end strength of 520,000? It sounds a lot like the Pentagon’s decision to proceed with its official planning and budgeting as if its $487 billion in reduced budget growth is the only hit it’ll take going forward. There’s an good chance that outside circumstances, including domestic politics (i.e. sequestration) or a worldwide economic collapse (i.e. Euro-catastrophe) could ultimately force the Army to field even fewer troops, but that is beyond the pale for now.

Pentagon officials have seeded the number 490,000 with a few of the Washington hacks they’ve given an advance read, and even Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has said publicly he wouldn’t be surprised if the Army goes below its 520,000 floor. But service officials evidently hope, like everyone else in the Palace, that if they show good faith in getting to this reduction they won’t have to get to another one.

Join the Conversation

It’ll be exactly the same units that got slashed as in the 1990s: combat support and combat service support. They’re integrated into the BCTs now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be slashing them.

With less than 500,000 we are supposed to deter Iran, North Korea and China from being more aggressive and testing us? What is the size of their militaries? According to this site: http://​www​.globalfirepower​.com/​c​o​u​n​t​r​i​e​s​-​c​o​m​p​a​ris

North Korea: Active: 1,106,000 Reserves 8,200,000
China: Active: 2,285,000 Reserves 800,000
Iran: Active: 545,000 Reserves 650,000

USA: Active: 1,477,896, Reserves 1,458,500 (Before the build-down)

It’s not just the number of guys they have, but the money they spend on them. North Korea has an annual defense budget of about 5 to 10 billion dollars with nearly 2 million men to support, train, and equip. That comes out to about five thousand dollars per soldier, or virtually nothing in terms of how much money training and equipment consumes in a modern Army. We can safely ignore personnel costs because it’s North Korea and therefore there probably aren’t any, but the average American soldier has five grand tied up in just his rifle and night-vision equipment, to say nothing of the rest of his personal equipment or his typical yearly trip to JRTC or NTC, which don’t have a North Korean equivalent at all.

Iran has an equivalent budget with about half as many guys. This gives them about ten grand per soldier. Still not a lot-welfare recipients here see about that a year.

China’s funding level is quite beyond the rabble above, at about 33,000 a year per soldier. Still not very much-their numbers are more counterproductive than anything else, as it diminishes the amount of money you can spend on quality equipment and training.

The USA, with about 1 million provided for by the federal budget (not including reservists), has a defense budget of about 700 billion this year. With sequestration, that’ll descend to about 472 billion a year, or the 2007 defense budget for all intents and purposes. 700 billion dollars with about one million service members comes out to about 700,000 dollars a year per soldier/sailor/Marine, or a level of funding that Iran, China, and North Korea COMBINED doesn’t even come close to. With sequestration, that’d descend to 472,000 dollars per service member per year, which is still orders of magnitude beyond what any of these opponents currently spend (and two of them can’t even begin to think of that kind of funding.)

More money=better training and equipment.

Good Morning Folks,

What’s the big surprise here. This is Rumsfeld draw down plan and is the topic of some papers written at Ft. Leavenworth in 04–05. Move Heavy BCT’s into the guard expand the guard. This concept is very popular with the states because the Fed’s pick up most of the tab but the states bet an expanded emergency labor force.

The objection the active Army has is that the Guard will want a seat in the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The first duty of the current General Staff power structure is to keep the power to themselves. For the tax payer this is a good deal.

Cutting the active USArmy to 490K will put a nice cut into the dod budget while keeping a large military. In time of emergency (War) ground forces can be trained much quicker the air or naval forces. From city streets to combat as was shown in WW I, WW II and Vietnam can be as short as five months. Guard/Reserve soldiers who are already into unit can and have been in the current conflict activated and sent to a combat zone in three to four months.

To have typical Naval or Air Force personal ready for combat takes about a year, two years for personal involved in aviation or submarines.

Byron Skinner

“More money=better training and equipment.”

I can generally agree with that but don’t make the mistake of equating the value of a dollar with our enemy’s currency. It costs us an exponentially greater amount of resources to do the same thing our enemies do for pennies. E.G. You really don’t think they are spending $100 per uniform or that ours is exponentially better than theirs.

Seems I always have to point that out to the the simpletons (not saying you’re one of them) that like to parrot we spend more than the whole world combined on defense. I like to remind them we spend a trillion on education yearly and the chinese spend 100 bil with three times the population and they are kicking our butt.

So we are cutting almost 25% of our combat formations. I see no problem there. (DRIPPING SARCASM)

Wish we would do those types of cuts at the flag rank.

It’s not good but a necessary to cut the number of troops. Most of the cuts should be infantry and keeping Armored and Stryker units intact for any emergency. GCV and ICC can be canceled to save millions to preserve as many infantry units as possible.

Over all comparing us to the Chicoms is foolish since Red China always had a huge number superiority over the US. Our edge is always better weapons and better training over the commies.

I’ve disagreed with many of your posts. but i’m with ya on this one. Call your Congressman! Stop the topline cuts to DoD!

Good call! Why do we need two senators per State? we should amend the Constitution — one Senator per state = less cooks spoiling the soup.

Nothing new in this article. 10–15 BCT cut is well known. Count the 170th and 172nd IBCTs as good as gone already. All 10 divisions added a BCT during the war and I foresee them going back to 3 BCTs apiece. What the article does not mention is the plan to add a maneuver battalion to each BCT and possibly an engineer BN. Less, but more capable brigades.

Can we have a little reality here? Any wars with the three nations mentioned, North Korea, Iran, China, will be coalition affairs, with the US backing up threatened allies. Our piece of the action will be providing technical and logistical muscle, not groundpounders.

As the JSOF agree we are the beat cop for the world … add administrative and ordinance muscle as well. Que Bernanke, and QE3 some more of those million-dollar cruise missles for our “friends.”

Just return the Senator’s appointment to the state legislatures, like it was in the original Constitution.…

Unless the war becomes another Vietnam.….

Most of my prior posts focus on buying more F-22s and not cancelling the F-35 because I believe they can get it working to the way they want it this year or next. Before the Russians and Chinese have their 5th gen fighters being produced at the very latest. Plus I would like us to stay with 11 aircraft carriers.

The Guard has a seat at the table now as of a couple weeks ago.

Starting next year (maybe) they’re supposed to convert the STBs back into engineer battalions by expanding the staff and adding a second engineer company. The engineer battalion will still hold onto the signal and MI companies. Agreed that 170th and 172nd are done. I would love to see another battalion in each brigade. The brigade can cover more ground, the C2 apparatus can handle it, and it’s what we’ve been doing for the last few years anyways. You could man 2 infantry companies with how big some brigade staffs get. My BCT in Afghanistan last year was made up of its 6 organic battalions, a battalion sliced from another brigade, and 5 separate companies of Civil Affairs, MPs, and MI.

Rumseld wanted to cut us down by at least a division when he took office while we were at 480K. Just a couple years later we were so short of troops in Iraq that the OPFOR at Polk and Irwin had to be deployed along with tens of thousands of Guard, Reserve, and even a couple thousand Air Force pulling convoy security.

Let’s get real. The size of the Chinese or American armies is a meaningless comparison. They are stopped at the water’s edge and we would be plain stupid if we tried to invade China. For what purpose? To save Wal Mart’s factories?

North Korean? If the South Korean’s, who are making employing all their workers by making cars to sell in the U.S. (unemploying our workers) are so scared of their impoverished breathen up north, let them pay to double the size of their army (with all the hard currenncy they are getting from us). Not our problem, and again, if the North Koreans won, they still can’t cross the ocean. That’s what our Navy is for.

So, let’s finally save us taxpayers some serious money and cut the never-reall-downsized-after-winning-the-Cold-War U.S. Army.

But the numbers don’t quite add up. You lose 20 maneuver battalions and maybe 10 cav squadrons to pick up a third battalion in 35 brigades. See the problem ?

Sorry, but you can’t do net assessment that way. Unless there are zero situatioins in which you could fight the Chinese Army (let’s say that they were located on the moon, you have to deal with their potential power. What if China invades Taiwan, ? Intervenes in an Indo-Pakistani war ? Comes to the aid of a failing North Korea ? The Army doesn’t go in when diplomacy succeeds, but when it fails, The biggest argument, btw, against the US ever fighting China again — that it possesses nuclear weapons and long range delivery systems — it also an argument against confronting them with the Air Force and the Navy. I personally think that, nuclear weapons aside, we can beat these guys on the ground, but we would need a WWII-like mobilization to do so. Nuff sed.

And — biw — you commend about the Army never really having downsized after the Cold War defies the facts, the Army lost over a third of its combar diivisions and its end strength in 1992.And even before then, the US Army never came close to Russian and China. The fact that you cannot recognize that we are operating on a much lower baseline reflects not just cluelessness, but an insulting insensitivity to those who wear the uniform.

But a WWII-like mobilization would require a focused and “antagonized” American citizenry. Not to sound like one of the conspiracy mongers, but if there had never been a Pearl Harbor, would the WWII mobilization every have happened? Perhaps, given Roosevelt’s cheerleading, but Im thinking that it would never have reached the fervor that was achieved.

Now the question.… What action on the part of China or a resurgent Russia would it take to inspire that national dedication that brought forth the “miracle” of US military and industrial mobilization in WWII? Dont forget that a direct attack on the US homeland that killed more Americans than Pearl Harbor (i.e. 9/11) failed to do it!

Without that “focus” it would be suicidal to engage in a land war with a major opponent, so.…. ignoring the option might not be as farfetched as placing the Chinese Army on the Moon and certainly not as necessary as you and I might think.

This is just Army numbers… not total military endstrength per the article.

The brigades will also lose a BTB and a STB so there are another 20 battalions.

The Stryker BDE already have 3 maneuver battalions plus a cav squadron so you are only talking about adding BN to the HBCT and IBCT.

Killing 10 BCTs=35–40,000 troops. The non-sequestration goal is 50,000 or so which means some functional units will have to go too. Adding a 3rd battalion to each BCT would require about 20,000 troops assuming 17 IBCTs, and 10 HBCTs remain. Strykers already have 3 battalions. They’d either have to find another 20,000 troops to cut after cutting BCTs or only give that 3rd battalion to select BCTs, the numbers don’t add up. Crap.

The cuts that make the most sense right now are to ground forces. All this “but look what happened in Iraq” noise is just that, noise. Iraq was a mismanaged war and all of the problems we faced there were easily avoidable. And they do not negate the fact that we are over invested in ground forces right now. I have no idea what the exact size of the Army or the USMC should be but both can be significantly reduced with out harming national security. With proper planning and resourcing, the National Guard and various reserve services can make up for the cuts and do so at a much more affordable price.

The problem with the “noise” is that you’re counting on our politicians or the enemy to get us into a war that plays to our strengths and force ratios. The same guys that sent us to Iraq and Afghanistan said “we’ll never fight another Vietnam or Bosnia” yet there we went. Some of the problems were avoidable and some of them weren’t. We have a tendency to foresee the conflict from D-Day to the victory parade on our schedule and then get upset when the enemy casts his vote. I’m not advocating particular force ratios or end strength because that’s above my pay-grade, but I don’t think any factors should be hand waved away because we think it was all a fluke.

Don’t understand USAF. So a land war with a major opponent would be suicidal but an air or sea war would not? Obviously once we start shooting at each other all bets are off.

If you were Chinese and found oneself at war with the US you aren’t going to pit weakness against strength. They are going to find a way to bring their strength to bear.

I don’t think it’s wise to cut the Navy or Air Force and I don’t buy the premise that we MUST cut the military. It’s just the easiest option for the politicians. Pardon us old soldiers that want to avoid the Army continuing to pay 80% of the price in blood when it comes to war. We didn’t expect to have to sacrifice an army in the phillipines in WWII. A future scenario could place us in a position of having too few ground forces somewhere. It’s not farfetched. We just haven’t thought about it yet. Who saw us fighting a war in landlocked Afghanistan in ’91, ’95 or 10 Sep ’01?

Sorry, I said “land war” but I meant to say a full blown, no holds barred, fully-engaged military conflict, with the naval and aerial combat implied. Guess Im still of the old opinion that there is probably no such thing as a winnable ground war for us, in Asia. By winnable, Im not necessarily talking about the battlefield results, which, as in the infamous N. Vietnamese response, is “immaterial”, but rather the impact on our nation and the long term political ramifications.

For the last 2000 years or so, the Chinese military strategies have not been based on pitting strengths against strengths, so…. wont change.

Afraid that Im not sufficiently clairvoyant to forsee that “next war” any better than you. Whatever it turns out to be, Im pretty sure it wont be a re-cap of Saddam’s attempt to wage “Fulda Gap — 1980″ and will look a lot more like the “insurgency” of the last few years, but.… thats only if it turns out that the “big boys” take a bye. Against a peer or near-peer enemy.… . who knows what might evolve.

No, the problems were all completely avoidable. First, it was a war of choice. We did not have to invade Iraq and there was and still is no compelling reason for us to have done so. Second, no real analyst of the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq was apparently done. If it had, a lengthy occupation would have been forseen. If we still chose to invade Iraq knowing full well that a 5 plus year occupation was in the cards, then a rational and relevant call up of the reserves and National Guard would have eliminated both the strain on the regular forces as well as the need to grow the Active Army and the USMC in the first place. If there was no political will to mobilize the reserves and Guard, then one has to question the very need for the war in the first place.

Agreed that it was pretty much a pointless war. The research of the aftermath by some accounts was stopped by Rumsfeld. A few generals claim they were threatened by him for planning postwar operations. The war itself was avoidable. Much of the post-invasion confusion was avoidable if the military planners were allowed to do their jobs. The post-invasion insurgency and outside influence by Syria and Iran was not avoidable. From what I’ve seen, Rumsfeld’s idea for the war seemed to be charge in, smash the place, quickly install a pro-west government, and leave. I remember him very clearly lampooning the State Department for how they did things in Bosnia and saying the DoD could do it better which didn’t quite work out.

we need to rethink how to reduce the Army. We need the guys willing to be boots on the ground before we need the guys in the acquisition side going to meetings with contractors.

I agree. The enemy gets a vote, air power is rarely the total answer to anything but short term/surgical engagements (ie those that work the first time — there’s no guarantees of that!) You can’t count on your leadership to make the best choices. They are human beings, part of a team of human beings, all imperfect. Throw politics into the mix and the best decisions are not always made. I see the necessity of cutting the budget. But I’m still stinging from getting Stop Lossed for 10 months to do another round in Iraq. Some folks in my Brigade were Stop Lossed for 22 months. There were nearly 500 of us Stop Lossed total. And three of my friends (that I know of) were called back up from IRR for ANOTHER TOUR. Our Guard and Reserve have served about twice the amount of time overseas that existing policy provides for. It’s not at all uncommon to meet a Soldier or Marine who’s served 24, 36, or even more months on combat deployments. That’s more time than a lot of folks did even during World War II.

Realistically, though, while it sucks for the guys in uniform, I guess that’s beside the point. Those of us who served or are still serving in the Army should acknowledge that politically it was too easy to use Stop Loss and Call Ups to man the force we needed to get the job done. Come another ground forces engagement, they’ll probably do the same. After all, it worked this time, didn’t it?

And the “solution” will be more contractors. More money flushed down the drain.

just a clue for you a good night vision riflescope is over 5k us


There would never be a large scale ground war with China or North Korea. I think other other countries may see Iran as a more immdiate issue.

You are probably right with China. Too much to loose on both sides for a real knock-down drag out “All In” war. But “Wars by Proxy” like from the Cold War era can get very nasty, as we found out. Still, somewhere in that list of contingencies, its only prudent to consider even the “long shot” possibilities.

As for N. Korea, I believe that you give them far too much credit for logic and reason. With the new regieme in place, we may see some sanity eeking its way into their policy but.… . . Id be more prepared to believe that when I see that!

Put the N. Koreans, Iranians, and to a lesser degree several other “irrational”, but less militarily endowed, nations in the same bag as immediate issues and Im thinking you might be better off.

AND in the end, you have to consider the mobilization potential. With China and N. Korea very large numbers of raw recruits COULD be drafted in a big hurry.

Acquisition guys should at least own a pair of boots. If need be tap them to do boots on the ground stuff. Not saying you won’t have to train them to do it . But remember, combat arms guys are not born lean mean killing machines either. They have been calling even the most pogetastic folks war fighters for years if need be we should be able to make good on that designation. If not then we have bigger problems.

Army gets smaller, so will the generating force. Not so open secret is that the powers that be want to use USAR as operational reserve with activations every few years whether there is a conflict or not. Use more reservists towards this generating force and you have more Active Component available to man the BCTS and other brigades such as the CABs, SBs, etc…

We have got bigger problems (and if you know the spelled out meaning of REMF you know exactly what I mean!).

Didn’t the Reimer report dabble with the notion of cadreing some units. Is that the secret sauce ?

For those interested, the Reimer Report is at: http://​www​.roa​.org/​s​i​t​e​/​D​o​c​S​e​r​v​e​r​/​G​E​N​_​R​e​i​m​e​r​_​P​ane

I would be a little careful with that idea. If you can keep training OPTEMPO high enough in the RC, you may be able to get away with something like this, but the whole “mobilization augmentee” concept is whacked. What you end up doing is calling up troop program units and then breaking them to round out someone else. If all you want is E-5 and below on the enlisted side, and O-3 and below on the officer side, it is absurd to promote reservists any higher than those ranks. You can’t build quality into the force this way. Our experiences in the GWOT with the reserves have been mixed. You have the Abu Giraib disaster on the one hand, and you have NG brigades holding down entire sectors in Afghanistan and Iraq on the other. My point is that if you want to generate anything useful out of the reserves, you have to invest in the reserves and give them the same sense of urgency as the active force. Even then, one has to recognize that these folks have lives and families to support, and just cycling them on and off active duty will cause attrition among the people you would really like to keep and need to keep. Can we find a way to find a sustainable middle ground ?

“Can we find a way to find a sustainable middle ground ? ”

As a former ANG member.… therein lies the rub. If you want the same levels of training and competencies in the reserves as in the active duty forces, you just cant, in most specialties, get that on two days a month and two weeks a year. Throw in the routine EAD deployments to a combat zone, and you gain some practical experience and start to destroy the “part time” illusion of reserve duty.

Sorting out where and how the Guard and reserves should mesh with the Active Duty forces is one of those $64,000 questions if you could ever find the right answer (and it would be very cheap at that price!)! :-)

Let me answer this in a slightly different way All military services help the economy by training people in skills useful in both military and civilian life. It makes up to some extent for the lack of technical training in secondary school and at the community and technical college level. Air Force and Navy training is mostly done at the institutional level rather than in units. In the Army, up to 50% of individual tasks can be trained in the unit. Why ? Well, in the Army, poorly trained people get dead right away in combat — but if you have an incompetent or poorly motivated or dishonest aircraft mechanic, some other highly paid and trained individuals get dead in the accident. So there is a basic floor of competence that you don’t want to go below, realizing that when the economy improves, attrition rates will go up as people leave for greener pastures. So the investment you make in people is the most important part of the equation, which is why I really think it best to just baseline the active force at a given level, and fight to maintain that baseline. If you move the baseline every time you have a crisis, you do both the people who serve and the nation they serve a grave disservice.

This response makes a number of assumptions both about the (admittedly) hypothetical scenario, and the attitude of the American public in that situation. I have a visceral problem making broad generalizations about either, in part because we really don’t know enough about how the American public reacts to crises, and in part because one of the main independent variables is the character and the qualitry of America’s political leadership, from the president on down. Do we in fact trust our democracy to make the right decisions in a timely manner ? If we don’t what does that mean for our future as a nation ? That said, I do not believe that the American people will deliberately abandon an American army on the field of battle. I seldom second guess the past decisions of our political leaders. I might make an exception for Harry Truman, who allowed the US military to fall into unreadiness after WWII, when every indication was that this was a bad choice. As it stands right now, this could go either way, but I do have to say that the preponderance of inside-the-beltway opinion, and especially among the DC think tanks, is as irresponsible and short-sighted as I have seen in my adult life.

Say REFORGER.…Geographic CINC’s.…Cold war plans.……back to the past.….…a retired strategic thinker

We did not have the force structure when we engaged after 9/11. We chose not to restructure and deploy, we instead grew the force by increasing end strength and engaging reservists. If we just grown down with out change to the composition of both the institutional and operational Army we will miss an opportunity to define an Army of the future that is while smaller in number greater in capability.

another thing to consider — i think the dynamic is different between Army & Air Force. ANG flying units for example, are some of the most highly experienced fixed wing aviators to be found. They are quite capable of flying for the airlines one day and mobilizing and flying cargo / refueling sorties, etc the next. I am less convinced that Army National Guard who are cops & firefighters full time can mobilize rapidly and all of a sudden you have an ARNG HBCT that you can expect to integrate into a Joint Force and fight side by side with an active duty 4th ID HBCT. No knock on the ARNG, they are not properly resourced, their gear is not current, and part time training is not going to cut it. I think the Army should transition more ARNG from combat brigades into support brigades. We need to focus the ARNG role in CONUS national security missions.

Iran itself has a ton of infantry dedicated to humanwave attacks.

If there’s a ground war with them, artillery (and maybe even bayonets) will be our new best friend.

Army reserve units are full of cops. Why ? Well, look at the fairly minimal salaries policemen get paid and how they generally keep themselves in reasonably good condition, and have firearms training to boot. Kind of a no brainer. I have a good friend who retired as a police lieutenant and went into the Navy Seals as a reservist. Well, 9/11 came along, and he ended up rising to Navy Lieutenant as an LDO. He’s been all over the place, in his early 50s now.


Also major.rod sorry I’ve been gone for awhile, I’ve responded to your posts on part 1.

“If you were Chinese and found oneself at war with the US you aren’t going to pit weakness against strength. They are going to find a way to bring their strength to bear.”

You are absolutely correct, our weaknesses are that our only concentrations of US forces are in Korea/Japan. All other allies are pretty impotent. They do a first strike with big bad missiles/airstrikes/nukes, we’ll sacrifice more. THEN we’ll have to redo the entire Pacific campaign.

Have to agree with you are the Guard aspect. Combat Arms requires far more training than Combat Support & Sustainment. They should maintain Combat Brigades but focus more towards security, COIN and Foreign Military Training. These types of missions would allow longer pre-deployment training. These missions can be performed CONUS & OCONUS.

an Army Brigade Combat Team is an organization that is designed to accompish doctrinal missions across the full spectrum of conflict. We shouldn’t have to settle for BCTs that can only perform some “BCT” missions but not others. I think there are better organizations to perform the functions you mention. Security is like MP. COIN and Foreign Military Training are like Special Ops. We are better off if we design realistic organizations per realistic conditions, and then properly resource them and get them ready for what we need them to do. We have huge gaps in security problems at home as well as gaps in disaster response. We need the Guard to reform to fill these gaps, vs perpetuating an unrealistic vision of the Guard as a combat force.

The sad part of that fact is that I can get civilian equipment just as good and new generation nightvision, for much less. I suppose that 5k figure covers the lifetime parts and maintenance, so perhaps I should digress.

But quite frankly the equipment I use is better than Army standard, and you can afford to throw it away, and buy another one, several times compared to paying 5000 bucks!

Actually everyone I knew in the NG and Reserves wanted to be activated regularly. Even reforger was used as a recruiting tool. As long as they had a sane time cycle; I think it would actually motivate the troops.

The bad part about this time around was that each unit was badly mauled and ripped apart to salt the regular forces for positions/missions up for grabs. They lost their unit cohesion, and the regular units they went to didn’t even try to pick up the slack.

Great reminder! The amazing thing was that Truman was a pretty competent old artillery officer from WWI that should have known better; but his bean counter Missouri miser bone won out against his better military judgment.

Getting rid of all Baathists was one of the big mistakes — even after WWII we had the good sense to forgive and forget and hire many of the former Nazis to run the German municipal machine. It was the only way to get hold of the post war crisis quickly enough to even start to talk about the Marshal Plan.

In fact we should never have allowed the Iraqi Army to disband. Guaranteeing them pay, and getting them busy stabilizing their country would have been one of the quickest ways to gain a foot hold on the chaos.

Wartime demands do not give us the luxury of “sane time cycles”. i think your second paragraph contributes to my position. I wonder if combat support National Guard Brigades experienced the same problems with lack of unit cohesion as NG combat brigades? For combat operations, we joint task force organize for whatever the mission requires, demanding an ability to reorganize & reorganize on an ad hoc basis. We need to evolve our thinking about unit cohesion beyond service-centered (or national guard centered) perspective and need to think about it more realistically.. We do not do enough realistic joint training & exercises that prepare us for a vastly uncertain and rapidly changing reality. The tougher, more realistic joint training & exercises that we need would require a greater commitment than a weekend a month, 2 weeks a year.

I’m afraid the prejudice toward Guard units contributes to this disconnected feeling of scattered reservists. The National Guard provided plenty good enough training for MTOE requirements for the original stated mission, but as you said — war time changes everything. There was nothing wrong with the full time training preparing these troops for active deployment; it is just that the regular forces forgot to give a damn!

Not sure what you mean when you say regular units didn’t give a damn but units sink or swim on their own. They should all recieve the same support and if they don’t that’s wrong but I sense you are blaming the regular army for shortcomings in the Guard units. Guard commanders don’t have to give up individuals to the regular Army and commanders can say their unit is not prepared because they allowed key leaders to transfer to other duties.

A regular Army commander who allowed his leaders to leave to the point that he hurt his unit would be held responsible for that. Don’t guard commanders have the same level of responsibility? If you want to play with the big boys you have to follow the same rules.

The Guard commanders weren’t in the details because they were separated from their men too. The units I’m familiar with were broken up when activated, the law states that they become Federalized when activated in times of war, and the states really have no say in that. The Guard and Reserve are not true militia; states Governors don’t actually have any ‘rights’ (powers) on this once a unit is activated. Many states found this out, much to their chagrin, during Desert Storm. I feel I have a pretty good knowledge of the law on that.

I’m really not criticizing the way the Army organized this, or even how they trained; I’m just repeating what is already well known in the Guard and Reserve, that the regular forces treat us like red headed step children. The regular forces need to acknowledge that we are always, from now on, going to be an integral part of the Armed Forces. I think a big mistake was made during Vietnam, when not all Guard/Reserve were activated; this lent a bad taste to the active forces for all USAR forces; and I’m not sure I can blame them. I just think the issue should be addressed, and a realization pushed that the mistakes of past politicians should not color the present system. We need to forgive and forget the whole mess of the past and drive on!

When you say “regular forces treated us like red headed step children” I hope you’re referring to Department of the Army level or maybe one or two units you encountered. I started out in the Reserves and later transferred to active duty after the war started. We had plenty of issues of our own making that bubbled to the surface after 9/11 when it came to leadership, training, and reporting our shortcomings to higher. After I went active I worked alongside plenty of Guard and Reserve units in Iraq and Afghanistan. We thought some of them “odd” because of how they carried themselves, but we didn’t ridicule them or think ill of them unless they deserved it. I’ve worked with Guard units better trained and led than active units on occasion. I think your criticism was valid early in the war, but a lot has happened over the past decade.

Reserve units being chopped up happened quite a bit when the war started. My old reserve battalion was picked apart for individual activations early on, but then it was the battalion’s turn to deploy and they had to smash 3 other units together to round out the battalion to make them deployable.

This is encouraging. All of the units I belonged to were “deployable”, it was just that the Army didn’t need nuclear field artillery, or more division level support. So they had no choice but to split up and retrain everyone to their needs, and yes, make them deployable for the need.

I appreciate your, and Major Rod’s very considerate responses!

Reality is war with any/all of those 3 nations could take a wide variety of forms, including some we haven’t even though of. You can’t say with certainty how our scope will be narrowed per any particular set of desires. Our readiness and preparation are way off from what they need to be.

I served 2 yrs as an OIC of an advisory 6 man active component officer/senior NCOs team to a national guard Infantry BN. Good job, tough job. We learned we weren’t in charge and could only help where the unit wanted help. I left with a tremendous amount of respect for Guardsman. Meeting ALL yearly Army standards in 60 training days is not possible. It’s a tough row to hoe.

That said more than 50% of the Guard’s problems are self inflicted. Extremely limited training time was not always efectively used. Standards were not the same or upheld and equipment shortages aren’t excuses for not doing the basics.

I’d readily admit there still exists some active army prejudice that has diminsihed extensively over the last decade. If shortcomings exist now its not primarily the active components fault. Harping on select units that were individually deployed six years ago or were low density specialties aggravates the problem. I believe in one Army. More Guardsman need to also. Its very different now than it was pre OIF.

I’m extremely tired of the “red headed step child” whine except when it comes to how units are demobilized. The Army still has some work to do there but the rest is BS.

Guard units simply don’t have the time to reach the same standard of training as regular army units. As an active duty guy I understand that and didn’t hold it against guard units but gave them missions they could handle. There’s no shame in that.

I also hear an awful lot of Guardsman saying they don’t get enough credit and they carry the same weight. Its not true. Guard units deploy a third less than active units and even though being nearly the same size as the active component have suffered less than 20% of the casualties. Might want to consider those stats next time one wants to play the “woe on me” blues?

Your complaint is well taken Major Rod. This is the kind of communication exchange we need everywhere. I agree that Guard and Reserve units need more training. I feel the best way is to fully activate them every three to five years; whatever suits the needs best. Every unit I ever belonged to always loved the idea of going active for two years in some capacity as a regular cycle. The civilian employers probably don’t like it, but in my case and many soldiers like me, would pick duty to a civilian career any day.

We in the Guard and Reserve are a weird lot — we don’t want to play army everyday; but we do want to serve the country as best we can and still have a life on the block. It may be a difficult balance for the planners to figure out, but I think the taxpayers would get more bang for their buck. We are all patriots in this endeavor.

This would be the kind of thing that I would very much like to change. No active duty “advisors”. Take those active slots and integrate them into the reserve component force structure. The staff with troops and command time count both ways. One thing that reserve units have in spades is cohesion — adding active leadership into the mix would induce change, and hopefully enable the reserve unit to grow into a better and more capable force. I think this would also make the reserve experience better for those coming off of active duty who need a home. While there is some value to rebalancing the force to take on new missions as they evolve, I think we should concern ourselves with recouping the investment made in the people we already have.

The simple and unambiguous answer to this claim is, “That depends…”

VP — You don’t have any idea what you are talking about. The problem is the Guard doesn’t like to take active component types into their full time positions. They prefer those slots were given to those that came into the Guard from the states citizens. Bringing in active duty senior NCOs/officers makes it harder for the locals to get promoted.

Secondly the reason we have those advisors in guard units is they simply don’t have the experience to develop the level of competence we have in active component units. I spent an inordinate amount of time training Guard leaders in skills they should have known based on their rank and time in service. e.g. MDMP. The BN’s staff just didn’t have the opportunities to do MDMP to understand it let alone get OK doing it.

More tng/$$$ are issues the Army and the state need to work on. Your solution does nothing for that. The unit I advised kicked butt when it came to hurricane preparedness but God help us if they had to conduct a BN mov’t to contact.

JC — Putting Guardsman on active duty every couple of years? Why? Employers and wives won’t accept it. Doesn’t save money to activate/train up a guard unit to Army standards (60–90) days, assign them a mission and assign the resources to demob them (another 30 days). You just spent four months getting a unit ready when you could have sent an active unit with 25% less effort. The Guard exists to help the active execute its mission.

“We in the Guard and Reserve are a weird lot — we don’t want to play army everyday; but we do want to serve the country as best we can and still have a life on the block.”

Ever heard, “You can’t have your cake and eat it to?” I think things are better than they have ever been. If Guardsman want more active time well there’s a solution. Again, One Army right? The Guard is doing a great job serving as they are.

I understand what you said, but I really don’t care. Field grade promotions should not be gotten for good attendance. And especially not because Colonel so-and-so was class buddies with the governor down at the local state military academy. It is our screw-up that we force up-or-out personnel policies on the reserve components, the only place where folks turn down promotions to keep their slots. It is an absurd system.

The Reserve battalion I grew up in prior to 9/11 didn’t have to deploy for anything since WWII or Korea. My first CO grew up in the reserves and had that stereotyped “take it easy” attitude. His replacement just came off active duty from Korea and still had a lot of fire in her. Her gung ho attitude quickly dried up though when the realities of what you can accomplish in 60 days a year became apparent.

VP, those active duty advisors (they’re AGR, not quite active duty) are what keeps that unit tied in with the rest of the Army on a day to day basis. Aside from basic administrative responsibilities, those AGR officers and NCOs are the subject matter experts that the TPUs rely on like Major Rod described. If an officer or NCO spent a lot of time on active duty and transferred to the Reserves that’s one thing, but there’s plenty of leadership who started out at the bottom and rose through the reserve ranks not knowing what they didn’t know.

TMB — Slight correction. I was not AGR. I was an active duty Infantry officer assigned to lead that team and after my tour ended returned to the active army.

The Army has an animal called RTD (Reserve Training Detachments). They were congressionally mandated and consisted of soldiers that served as 5–6 men adisory team at BN level and a 30 man organizations at state level that conduct MTTs.

The AGRs (about one per company and 4–5 at BN) do the daily admin required at BN and often serve in a leadership or staff role in a company or BN.

I’ve always served in armories that were activated every time. I got used to it, and everyone but one or two troops out of 35 or so units liked the activation. I was in the AGR so I was already active.

I disagree with the Major on this; we are already on an activation cycle during GWOT, so it is already a reality. If employers don’t like , tough, in my opinion!

I disagree; I think activating a guard or reserve unit for 2 years, every three to five years is a good investment. Something similar has been going on anyway every since 9/11. It sounds like you already agree the system is working now; my idea isn’t much different.

There is always an efficiency loss on training, but even the regular forces have that when you look at over all retention data.(except for stop loss) It would be a hell of a lot better than sending large lots of clueless soldiers to the GWOT every time there is a “surge”.

JC — I suspect you are making the case for small select support units and not large units like Inf BNs and BDE’s that actually fill in on the line. “Liking” the activation has nothing to do with it. Allocation of resources and how much line time you get for a guard vs. active unit is a criteria.

Furthermore you are looking at a period when we were fighting a war active on two fronts to a future where we will potentially not be fighting any.

I’d also say tough to employers but have a little more compassion to the Guardsman that isn’t AGR and may lose his job.

I agree that the department of Labor tries to work with employers, but most soldiers including myself liked our service more that our civilian job. I never had trouble finding a new job; but the Labor department didn’t give my employer any choice quite frankly — they had to give me my job back if I wanted it; I just didn’t want it back.

Every deployment I saw was at least a Division. I’m not familiar with smaller actions. Some of those units crossed state lines, but were division size none-the-less.

Some of my service was AGR, then TDY in other states, sometimes they used state money to get me paid full time, I had to wear a uniform and do PT, but I was not classified as AGR. This was true in more than one state that I served in. Many units couldn’t keep up with the specialist duties in training programs, logistics, or weapons; since I had AGR experience, I was a shoo in for these positions.

The changes I have in mind would merge AGR into the Regular Army. Essentially, you would rotate regular officers and NCOs into an expanded set of positions as currently occupied by AGR and the civilian cadre (who generally also must drill and hold down a reservist TPU slot). Especially now, with many combat experienced young officers and NCOs, this would be a way for the Army to keep its edge and hold onto its human capital for a bit longer. Eventually people get old and go to seed, but if you keep the retirement policies reasonable and keep straight on fitness standards, this could work.

JC — We don’t deploy divisions and haven’t for six years. You have a very unique situation and experience. Doesn’t work for large combat units.

If one likes the service more than one’s civilian job there is a solution. It’s called active duty. The Guard fills an important role but mobilizing every 3 — 5 years because it’s “fun” is not the way to create a defensive posture nor is it efficient.

There are many reasons that Guardman choose not to be active, most are very understandable. Making the Guard “like” an active unit because Guardsman like it more than a civilian job is why we have an active duty force. Are you listening to yourself?

I respect you opinion Major Rod; I just like mine. I have a life outside full time service, but don’t mind being called out when need be. It doesn’t matter for me anyway. As I am now disabled and retired. I still cheer for the members of all my old units. They are like alma mater to me.

JC — Understand. Just pointing out your “like” makes no sense. I like to eat, drink and stay up all night. Doesn’t make for a smart or long life.

We need to do what’s best for our nation’s defense first and not what we enjoy.

We have not been activating guard units for two years. A 100% increase in OPTEMPO is not “similar” nor is it justified with less combat going on just for the sake of doing it.

We sent “clueless soldiers” in the surge? You clearly don’t understand what the active duty units are doing when they aren’t deployed. I want to be a fly on the wall when you tell the grunts from the 82nd, 101st, 173rd, 3ID etc. that they were clueless.

I’m just using “clueless” as a figure of speech, not a reality. No we aren’t sending them that way, and I hope we continue in that regard.

Not two years? One local unit was activated in 2006 not to return until 2008. That’s what I remember; maybe I’m brain damaged.

My continued thanks for your participation in the discussion.

Sounds good to me. When I first joined up, all our AGR were regular army Vietnam vets, and one of them, whom I later went to school with, was a Green Beret. I’d say about half our unit was Vietnam vets.

I actually liked it. If I know there is a good reason for it, I like grubbing in the mud, dirt, and the grease, bugs, bug repellent, and humping equipment up and down the mountains. Its called motivation. Now when the bullets fly, some might get demotivated, but then you know that about some people already.

JCitizen, There was a brigade from 34th ID (whichever one has the bull head patch) in that timeframe that when you added their 3–4 month mobilization, 12 month deployment, 3 month extension for the surge, and 2 month demobilization, they were away from home for almost 2 years. That specific event is what drove Secretary Gates to limit a Reservist’s activation to 12 months TOTAL which include Mob/Demob time.

Thanks TMB, I wonder if that included ARNG? Just wondering.

Sorry, yes. I said Reservists, but I meant both Reserve and Guard. With Mob/Demob time, those units and soldiers only do 9 months actually deployed — which is irrelevant now since all Army deployments have been reduced to 9 months.

Thank your very much!


NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | Like us on , follow us on and join us on Google+
© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.