Monday, August 07, 2017

Bring the Mountain to Mohammed

I'm generally in favor of forward deploying more troops in Europe given the importance of the continent to America.

I do think that in the short run, having practice deploying heavy brigades from the continental United States to Europe is very useful given that the skill has atrophied since the Cold War.

Cost isn't my major concern. It is the time to deploy that concerns me. So I'd like practice moving units across the Atlantic followed by permanent stationing and REFORPOL depots in Europe centered on Poland.

But this writer has a point about a problem with forward deployed units:

Forward-stationed brigades do not have access to [a National Training Center OpFor] capstone exercise and must send one to two battalions at a time to smaller training sites such as the Joint Multinational Training Center in Germany or Rodriguez Live Fire Complex in Korea.

He's probably right about the effect of not going to NTC. Although I seem to recall that nobody considered our V and VII Corps forward deployed in West Germany to be anything but our best heavy units during the Cold War. In the Persian Gulf War I recall that the Iraqis feared our VII Corps the most because it had trained to fight the First Team--the USSR's forces in East Germany.

But I'll go with his criticism of the problem of forward-deployed units. He's probably right.

First off, I'm fine with rotating units through Kuwait and South Korea. I think that is a sufficient model for defending our interests there given the strength of allies and the status of enemy threats.

But Europe is different. We need troops in central Europe and in a crisis we need them sooner rather than later. The gap in time between needing American heavy forces in Europe and having them in Europe is a valuable period of time for Russia.

I'd like other NATO allies to move to central Europe with us, too.

But the training problem remains, then. Forward units don't have access to the NTC in America.

So why not build a training center in central Europe that rivals the NTC? I think it would be great to have a center there for American and NATO allies to practice their craft against the best Russian-style heavy force ever created--our OpFor unit at NTC.