We are about to start a major theater war (MTW), the building block war around which we determine what is 'enough' to defend America. The second MTW, North Korea, looms over us even as we flow to the Gulf.
So we really have enough ground troops?
First Cav and 1st Armored divisions are alerted to move. Plus 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Light). Clearly, we do not need these units to invade Iraq. Still, it is good to have them in the pipeline ("flowing") just in case we run into difficulties. It would not do to have an invasion force run into problems, request reinforcements, and then wait six weeks while the units ship to the Gulf. I imagine the two heavy divisions will fall in on equipment in the Gulf and be in action quickly if needed.
An article in the Washington Post today says this latest announcement commits 5 of our 10 active divisions. Let's see, 82nd AB is in Afghanistan and Kuwait; 3rd ID is in Kuwait. 101st AB is in Kuwait. 1st ID is in Kosovo and heading for the Gulf. 4th ID has its equipment floating off of Turkey; 1st CAV is going to the Gulf; 1st Armored Division is going to the Gulf; 10th Mountain Division will probably go the Gulf. I count eight. That leaves 2nd ID to watch the North Koreans and 25th Infantry (Light) (part of both are transitioning to Stryker Brigades, I believe). That's ten. I sure hope the Guard getting called up includes combat divisions. Nor do we have many Marine line units outside of Kuwait, it seems. So how small do we want our ground components to be? Will Rumsfeld really kill two Army divisions?
When we went to ten active Army divisions, people scoffed that we'd need to fight Iraq and North Korea at the (nearly) same time. That doesn't seem so ridiculous now. Plus we have to babysit the Balkans. Sure, people said we could just bug out if more important needs arose, but does that seem so wise now? When in one crisis we should pull out of another area and risk it exploding too? Nor does the established force of five Army divisions and 1 or 2 Marine Expeditionary Forces seem so assured of quick and decisive victory now that we go to war. Now, all or elements of eight Army divisions are heading to the Gulf plus three other brigade-sized separate units (2nd and 3rd ACRs and 173 AB Brigade), plus 24 Marine line battalions—eight brigade equivalents!
Quantity has a quality all its own, the old saw goes. We can't rely on technology and lightness to send small units of super troopers against masses of the enemy. Numbers matter. Remember the British Expeditionary Force in 1914? A superb force to be sure, it blistered the Germans as they advanced toward Paris. But at the end of the campaign, the German army stood while the British army was decimated. Just what would we do if we faced dedicated enemy soldiers and not the demoralized Iraqi conscripts?
What if we faced the North Korean, for example? How many American divisions would be flowing into the Korean peninsula to overcome adversity and still fight on to victory?
Or are we really willing to use nukes? That's a Hell of a choice to have. Let's not ever get to that point.
Enlarge the Army. There are no shortages of missions for our troops. And this will be true for quite some time.
[NOTE: This is from the former Defense Issues category from my original blog.]
Saturday, March 01, 2003
One day I hope to finish moving posts from my original site here. But I stalled out after coyping and pasting 7 months of posts in February 2003, after a dozen posts that month. So as a stopgap, let me post to the undead archives of the gap months.
Here is March 2003.
Here is March 2003.