Monday, February 22, 2016

The 360 Pivot

The United States Army is pivoting back to Europe with heavy armor. We'll need much more, now.

The pivot to Asia assumed Europe was secure and wars were responsibly ended in the Middle East.

The latter is obviously way off. And notwithstanding the administration's hope of a "reset" with Russia, Putin's aggression, rearmament, and rhetoric have made it clear that Europe is not secure.

With more money allocated to Europe, the Army will continue the pivot back to their starting point:

The biggest chunk of funding — $2 billion — is for putting a “heel-to-toe” armored brigade combat team (ABCT) in theater 24/7 on a rotational basis on top of the Stryker brigade and infantry brigade already in Europe. The funding will also cover more aviation in theater.

A total of $1.8 billion of the ERI funding will pay for prepositioned equipment to include an entire ABCT static set of equipment, Horlander said, as well as some other enablers.

The Army has already established an “activity set” — separate sets of equipment outside of prepositioned stocks — that builds out a brigade combat team.

Unfortunately, the equipment will be in central Europe--where the old NATO infrastructure still exists--well west of the revived Russian threat to new eastern NATO states.

And the presence is rotational, leaving our forces based in Europe at just two lighter brigades.

I lamented the end of our heavy armor presence in Europe.

Note that my hope at the end of that post that lack of heavy armor would at least reduce the ability of Putin to complain about our planned invasion has been dashed as paranoid ranting increased instead.

I've long wanted a robust Army presence in Europe, both to project power into an arc of crisis from West Africa to Central Asia; and to guard against a possible resurgence of threats to Europe itself. (See my article on force presence in Europe here. And note that I don't know why MR credits me with a PhD. I never said that, at one time they corrected that error, but it has reappeared. I have an MA in history.)

On the bright side, we are up-gunning the light Stryker brigade in Europe to include 30mm guns with some anti-armor capability (against lighter armor--not tanks) rather than their original heavy machine guns.

This is something I've long wanted for conventional war. Indeed, I think the simplest thing to do for the Stryker brigade to adapt to new threats is to add a tank battalion to the three light mechanized maneuver battalions (up-gunned [link added], to be sure) that the brigade has. It could either fight as a battalion or split the companies out to the infantry battalions. Or trade companies with two of the infantry battalions to create three tank-supported task forces and have one pure infantry unit.

And please note that in light of the need to continue to protect our gains of World War II in Europe with added forces more than 70 years after World War II and more than 25 years after the Warsaw Pact collapsed, ending the Cold War in victory, how smart was it to walk away from Iraq in 2011 following our military victory there, where the pivot with Iraq War 2.0 has reached 360 degrees, too?