Monday, April 18, 2016

All Not Quiet on the Eastern Front

The Army is rediscovering Europe:

POLITICO has learned that, following the stunning success of Russia’s quasi-secret incursion into Ukraine, [Lieutenant General H.R.] McMaster is quietly overseeing a high-level government panel intended to figure out how the Army should adapt to this Russian wake-up call. Partly, it is a tacit admission of failure on the part of the Army — and the U.S. government more broadly.

After over a decade of fighting insurgents and terrorists, during which the Army became "unbalanced" (that is, focused on that task at the expense of training to fight conventional enemies), we find we must quickly balance to cope with Russia.

Mind you, I think we had to win the war in Iraq--which we did--and so becoming unbalanced was worth the risk. The alternative was to keep a good portion of the Army focused on conventional war while a smaller portion of the Army struggled in Iraq, risking failure.

Or we might have expanded the active Army by hundreds of thousands of troops to do both--and we'd have had to have mass mobilization of the National Guard's combat units to get troops fast enough until we could train new units.

And given the view of visionaries, would we have trained for the right kind of conventional battle?

After all, Russian heavy armor, as the article notes, has proven to be valuable despite views by some "visionaries" that heavy armor is obsolete. This is apparently a revelation.

Which is odd considering how useful armor proved to be even in fighting insurgencies in Iraq (and that was the pre-MRAP and pre-Abrams deployment era).

I was never one of those visionaries. Nope.

And now Russia has reminded us (because past lessons aren't persistently learned, again and again) that the evolved dinosaurs aren't about to become extinct.

Which should make us wonder if updating heavy armor was really a "waste" of resources:

Among the expenditures flagged as waste: $40 million to upgrade the M1 Abrams tank, even though the Pentagon says the upgrade isn't needed or wanted.

"There are 2,000 of them parked in the desert and it's simply not something that they want to spend money on," Schatz said.

Yeah, we might need every darned one of them--and more--in Europe.