Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Army Challenge

The Army needs to adjust to the fact that it will get far less funding than it needs and prepare for the day it will be sent to war despite that shortfall.

I'm not comfortable arguing that the Army is paying for Air Force planes and Navy ships. One budgets for threats with limited money and you have to make choices. The Army has lost this battle for now.

And no, suffering the most in our wars since 9/11 doesn't get the Army any credit. That's a sad fact of life.

Not that I don't agree that the Army is underfunded.

The Army thinks it would have problems defeating Russia right now:

A series of classified exercises over the summer has raised concerns inside the Defense Department that its forces are not prepared for a sustained military campaign against Russia, two defense officials told The Daily Beast.

Many within the military believe that 15 years of counter-terrorism warfare has left the ground troops ill prepared to maintain logistics or troop levels should Russia make an advance on NATO allies, the officials said.

Among the challenges the exercises revealed were that the number of precision-guided munitions available across the force were short of the war plans and it would be difficult to sustain a large troop presence.

“Could we probably beat the Russians today [in a sustained battle]? Sure, but it would take everything we had,” one defense official said. “What we are saying is that we are not as ready as we want to be.” ...

At his last briefing with reporters, Army General Raymond Odierno, the outgoing Chief of Staff of the Army, said NATO exercises conducted in Europe exposed even small challenges that could have outsized impact in a fight against Russia.

“One of the things we learned is the logistical challenges we have in Eastern Europe. For example, Eastern Europe has a different gauge railroad than Western Europe [where U.S. has traditionally trained] does so moving supplies is a more difficult. So we are learning great lessons like that,” Odierno said.

“We may very well be able to provide the airpower that would allow us to prevail in a fight, but the current state of our air forces definitely doesn’t make that a sure bet.”

More serious was Odierno’s warning that “only 33 percent” of the U.S. Army’s brigades are sufficiently trained to confront Russia. That’s far short of the 60 percent needed. Odierno said that he does not believe the Army will reach those levels for several more years.

The Army is small and could get smaller. This is a problem we could regret:

A Rand Corp. analyst warned Tuesday the U.S. could “regret” tackling the nation’s three largest security threats with the currently planned reduced Army force structure.

Remember, one day in the future the question of sending our Army to war will be the debate. If somebody correctly states that we have to go to war with the Army we have and not the Army we wished we had, remember that right now we are building the Army we wish to have on that future day.

And then we will send the Army we have to war. Whether or not we have the Army we wish we had at that moment. That's a fact of life that the Army must live with.