Monday, August 03, 2015

Bring Out the Banners

Retired Army Major General Scales writes that the Army is in danger of breaking--as it was broken in Korea and Vietnam (but not Iraq and Afghanistan). So we have a mission-accomplished moment for this administration.

The Army is in danger of losing its effectiveness:

I visited Baghdad in 2007 as a guest of Gen. David Petraeus. Before the trip I had written a column forecasting another broken Army, but it was clear from what Petraeus showed me that the Army was holding on and fighting well in the dangerous streets of Baghdad. Such a small and overcommitted force should have broken after so many serial deployments to that hateful place. But Petraeus said that his Army was different. It held together because junior leaders were still dedicated to the fight. To this day, I don’t know how they did it.

Sadly, the Army that stayed cohesive in Iraq and Afghanistan even after losing 5,000 dead is now being broken again by an ungrateful, ahistorical and strategically tone-deaf leadership in Washington.

The Army just lost 40,000 troops. It is likely to lose 40,000 more. And young officers and NCOs who hold the Army together are leaving the service, unsure if they have a meaningful future there, with no money for troops and no money for realistic training and no money for updated weapons.

Worse, the Army doesn't train enough and isn't updating major weapons systems.

Scales asks why the Army is breaking now during relative peace when it did not because of heavy fighting in Iraq (and Afghanistan). He knows why. He's said it.

Our Army endured Iraq and Afghanistan because we maintained unit cohesion unlike our policies for the wars in Vietnam and Korea where individuals flowed through units, churning them and destroying cohesiveness.

In our modern wars, we sent units and brought them home as units. The Left hated involuntary extension (stop-loss), but it was important to maintaining that unit cohesion.

Add in historically low casualty rates and a commander-in-chief determined not to make their sacrifices to win in Iraq (where the bulk of the fighting was) be in vain, and you answer the question. Winning helps a lot.

Yet the Army that did not break after losing 5,000 men in combat is in danger of breaking because it will lose 80,000 in peacetime in a short period of time.

But really, this was the administration plan all along, wasn't it? We'll see if Ash Carter has it in him to resist that plan.

Scales also asks why the Army should be the service broken when it did the bulk of the fighting and dying in our recent wars.

I can't answer that question. I just know that seems to be the way it is.