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PENTAGON: The Army’s widely publicized decision to cut 10 brigade combat teams from bases in eight states is just part of the story of the incredible shrinking armed services. To start with, it’s not actually 10 brigades: It’s 11, the 10 announced this afternoon and a player to be named later. Or, if you count two brigades being eliminated at bases in Europe, an announcement made months ago, it’s 13.

In fact, the Army isn’t actually eliminating 13 entire brigades but rather disbanding 13 brigade headquarters while keeping many of their subunits. As a result, the brigade cuts account for less than half of the 80,000 regular active-duty soldiers the Army is shedding by 2017.

Most of the cuts are coming from other parts of the Army. 8,300 are simply coming from units that aren’t part of combat brigades, such as supply and transport units. Some are soldiers who don’t count as part of any unit’s official and permanent manpower. That category includes, most notably, the 22,000 of “temporary end strength increase” (TESI, pronounced “Tessy”) and 10,300 “Wartime Allowance” (WTA) personnel that Congress authorized at the height of the Iraq war, when the Army had to man many units at well above 100 percent of their official authorized strength to make up for casualties and for veterans so injured by prior tours that they were ruled medically unfit to deploy.

By cutting 32,500 soldiers not permanently assigned to any unit, the Army was able to minimize the number of units it had to cut. But that cushion is gone — and sequestration is just beginning.

The cut announced today — 10 or 11 or 13 brigades, however you count it — does not account for sequestration, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and his staff repeatedly emphasized at today’s Pentagon press briefings. “If we go through a full sequestration, there’s going to be another reduction,” Odierno said.

What that reduction would be and how long it would take are still being thrashed out as part of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR, pronounced “skimmer” or “scammer” depending on the speaker’s degree of cynicism).

Already, said Odierno, “[fiscal year] ’14 is going to be very difficult with sequestration, but I can’t go any faster than I’m going,” because it takes years to get rid of personnel without breaking faith or enlistment contracts. (This is the main reason Gen. Odierno and other Pentagon leaders keep pleading with Congress to slow down, or ‘backload,’ the sequester). “I can’t really impact it until the ’15-19 budget [program],” Odierno said.

If the 10-year, $500 billion cut in defense spending known as sequestration plays out in full, as looks possible, Odierno has repeatedly said that the Army is going to have to cut up to 100,000 more troops — and not just from the regular active-duty Army, which has taken almost all the cuts so far (80,000 personnel), but also from the Army Reserve and National Guard, which have been almost entirely spared (losing only 8,000). What’s more, today’s announcements made clear that because the cushion of “temporary end strength” troops is gone, the next cut will bite much more deeply into combat units.

Indeed, the silver lining of today’s announcement is just how much of the Army’s combat forces it was able to retain. True, 13 of the Army’s 45 brigade headquarters are going away, but the 32 brigades that remain are going to be significantly bigger: They’ll grow from two “maneuver battalions” apiece (of tanks, infantry, and other frontline troops) to three, add combat engineers and a couple of artillery pieces, and generally shift from being optimized for the last decade’s static counterinsurgency operations to more mobile forms of warfare.

So as of today’s announcements — and keep in mind one more brigade is going to go away — the Army is cutting its number of brigade headquarters by 26 percent, from 45 to 33. But total personnel is only falling 14 percent, from a wartime peak of 570,000 to a 2017 target of 490,000. And the number of combat battalions, the guys at the sharpest end of the spear, is falling by only 3 percent, from 98 to 95. In short, the service is proportionately getting rid of more support troops than combat troops, more staff officers than tank gunners or infantry grunts, more chiefs than Indians.

This is exactly what many experts and some senior officials at the Pentagon have argued for much of the last 18 months should happen: cut headquarters staff and get rid of flags (command positions that have sprung up over the last 12 years).

The official breakdown of the 80,000-soldier cut:

  • 32,300 temporary wartime personnel (22,000 Temporary Endstrength Increase, TESI, and 10,300 Wartime Allowance, WTA)
  • 7,300 Trainees, Transient, Holdees and Students (TTHS), an Army administrative holding pen for troops who’ve left one unit or organization but not officially arrived at the next, for example because they’re in a special training program or long-term medical care;
  • 11,700 from cutting the two European-based brigade combat teams (since these units are being entirely disbanded);
  • 17,300 from the other 10-11 BCTs going away (since most of their subunits will simply go to other brigades);
  • and 8,300 from units and organizations that aren’t BCTs.

(Note that this doesn’t quite add to 80,000; the Army has only provided rather rough rounded figures so far).

The 10 bases each losing a brigade combat team (and remember one shoe is still to drop) are Fort Bliss and Fort Hood in Texas; Fort Campbell and Fort Knox in Kentucky; Fort Carson, Colorado; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Drum, New York; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and Joint Base Lewis-McChord (the old Fort Lewis) in Washington state.

The service is also able to cancel about $400 million in military construction projects that won’t be needed by the smaller force, Odierno said.

All told, the reductions and reorganizations “will reduce the number of headquarters while sustaining as much combat capability as possible,” Gen. Odierno said. “We are increasing our tooth to tail ratio.”

But that happy trend can’t continue if sequestration does. While there’s plenty of fat to cut in any large organization, the Army included, the sequester is going to bite right through the muscle to the bone.

Comments

  • Aurora

    Thank you for sorting all this out. Despite General Odierno’s dire warning with respect to sequester, its readily apparent to most observers that no “grand bargain” is going to be struck between the Republican House & the Democratic Senate and White House that will avert the looming cuts. Of course, our utterly dysfunctional legislature won’t account for it in their budgets, but its coming. These cuts have been pending for awhile and are no surprise. What the General didn’t say, but should have, are measures that he could take beyond cutting active duty end strength. For example, what about contractors and Department of the Army civilian employees? Or, heretical as it sounds, proposing cuts in pay and benefits for active duty? Five percent across the board wouldn’t significantly impact retention; I’ve read today where new college graduates are having trouble finding work “commensurate” with their degrees (note: does not apply to engineer and science graduates). I’m sorry, General, but the Congress isn’t going to bail you out. A little self-help is indicated. What about those two BCT’s still in Europe? With NATO members cutting their defense budgets to the bone, why are we still subsidizing their defense? You have some very smart people working for Department of the Army. Get them engaged on this. There are no more “safe” solutions.

    • dfinch

      The House gave Obama the ability to make cuts of his choosing. It didn’t have to be specifics. He refused.

  • Don Bacon

    Yes, thanks for laying it out.

    It’s all good — the country has no need of a half-million man army. No need at all. The immediate benefit is to inhibit ‘boots on the ground’ in Syria.

    • Carol Skelton

      The next time we are attacked, and it will happen, do not start screaming about where the military is. You and that fake in the Oval Office will be responsible for the distruction of this country.

      • Trenchtown Rocket

        That FAKE in the Oval Office indeed! Thank you for saying it Carol Skelton. When I got my commission as a brand spanking new Second Lieutenent coming on board for a career back in 1979, the active duty end strength of the US Army was 745,000 men and women. While we have made significant advances in technology since then, our inherent and sustainable flexibility will no doubt suffer and feel the strain as these end strength reductions approach these precipitously low numbers. Back then we could fight and sustain two full on wars being fought simultaneously. The next time around, who knows what we will be looking at or capable of. Barack Obama would rather fight imaginary ‘global warming’ FAKE wars than have to deal with preparing for REAL contingencies it would seem. The ‘Community Organizer’ once again reveals just how far in over his head he realy and truly is. And America WILL suffer for it unfortunately.

      • Harlem Journals Sunjata

        This is not the first time that the troop population was cut when the need for them was no longer considered priority. Prior to 9/11 there were also not as many troops in existence since they were cut, primarily combat since we were not in combat with anyone which needed all the troops who were on active duty. They will simply do two things, either institute the draft or find another way to recruit with the emphasis once again being focused on infantry.

        • Carol Skelton

          You seem to have a problem. When we are attacked again, it will be too late for the draft. There are such minor things as training and supplies. Neither of which there will be. The military will be gutted. And there will be an extra 800,000 plus souls out of work. Not to mention all the business that are around bases that will go away, putting more and more people out of work. But, pardon me, I forgot. People like you and the fake in the Oval Office want a nanny state. Ya’ll want a nation of people who are dependant on the government for everything. You don’t care about the hundred of thousands out of work, lives and families destroyed because the pretender in chief does not like the military.

          • Mark Samuels

            The military budget has DOUBLED since 2001, has your income? The problem is the military over spends on frivilous projects, with the hope that defense contractors will appreciate the gift of orders, and employ them upon retirement.

          • Harlem Journals Sunjata

            No, I don’t have any problem concerning this issue. Why do young men have to confirm they are eligible to be called up?? They have to confirm and having been doing so for a couple of years at least and that is a ready list, similar to the draft. They will have the same amount of training as those from World War I till now, there were no young men who were trained any differently then those who were trained when they entered post 9/11. The rest of issues don’t pertain to the subject. I don’t want anything from the government if it is about people and not assumptions as to who ya’ll refers to. I served my country, my husband was murdered while on active duty, on USA soil while our 23 day old baby never had the chance to even know her father. So, besides being a USA Veteran, USA born and raised citizen, Ya’ll don’t begin to refer to me. In terms of the Prez, regardless of personal opinions, he did not start the killing of our soldiers, he was not responsible tor the rape of our female soldiers. If he liked the Military as the previous administration as much as he did we would have more than sequestering and thinning the military to worry about in my opinion.

          • jsb

            Carol, go take your medication and calm down. If you want to talk about fakes in the oval office, let’s start with GW “Mission Accomplished” Bush. But you will never admit to all the lies told by the GWBush administration, you are still pissed that a half-black man is the president.

      • Mark Samuels

        Did you ever serve Carol, I did, as did my two cousins, and all three of us our military college grads. We will never again be attacked by a country with a functional military, technology will give us advance warning, and missle technology will ensure no ships or planes reach our shores.

        • Carol Skelton

          By the way, Mark, no I never served. I stayed home and watched my husband, his uncle, my brother, my 2 sons, and now my son-in-law as they served. They buried my husband’s uncle because of agent orange. My husband is now feeling the effects, as he served in Viet Nam. My brother served proudly in the Navy, as did my husband and his uncle. My oldest son is proud to have been a member of the 101st Airborne. My youngest son was in the National Guard. My son-in-law is proudly serving in the Army. My father was in the Army during WWII. My husband’s grandfather was also in WWII.
          If you really believe we will never be attacked again, then you are living a fantasy. Who says that “advanced technology will give us warning. You are ASSUMING

          • Carol Skelton

            Con’t that who ever is going to attack will do so with missles. Let me remind you of Boston. Advanced technology would not have helped with 9/11. Who ever attacks this shore next will not do so as those who attacked Pearl Harbor. We will not see missle build ups like the Bay of Pigs. They will come into this country and get what they need here to attack up from within. You are a fool to believe otherwise. The next war will not be like the past wars.

  • ELP

    Any Brigades that are parked which have Strykers in them will actually improve America’s land combat capability.

  • Jack

    It’s about time, now make those cuts to foreign bases and stop trying to occupy the world.

    • [email protected]

      As a veteran of the VN war, I agree.

    • Stang05

      I agree also. And when trouble occurs between countries, be it war of natural disaster, F’ em. Syrian type struggles, F’em. Keep the money at home and let the others thin the herd.

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    So if I can gather up all the guys cut that gives me what around 100 thou. ‘Night of the Long Knives’ comes into play. 10 years I will near 70 so what would it matter at that age? Can America last 10 years? That many people that were trained to be killers and then told ‘sorry we can’t afford you’ and no jobs out here. Sounds as a formula for disaster, way beyond Sandy Hook or Aurora. We’ll get a World War started up somewhere to save those military jobs.

  • OldHippie43

    It appears that sequestration does have a positive side, and cutting
    unneeded military personnel is a good start. Next, lets start
    eliminating unneeded government agencies, and scale back government
    employment. And, we can eliminate all the “payoff” money we send to
    foreign countries in the inane belief that we are buying their loyalty
    and friendship…..like the $2 billion we sent to the Muslim Brotherhood
    government in Egypt, or the $3.9 billion we send annually to Saudi
    Arabia – one of the wealthiest nations in the world – which is
    basically a bribe to garner their support on anti-terrorism efforts and nonproliferation.
    We can use that money in this country to create jobs and get millions
    off the welfare rolls. It’s time we look after America and its people;
    screw everyone else.

    • Carol Skelton

      How about this? Let’s get rid of the Senate and Congress. They do not do anything anyway. Well, neither does obama for that matter.

    • Carol Skelton

      There is a flaw in you “thinking”. Just what in the Sam Hill to you think
      is going to happen when they cut “UNNEEDED MILITARY PERSONEL”? Over 800,000 new
      unemployed. That is just the military. Now, let’s start counting the
      “collateral” damage. We are talking support staff. Those civilians who work on
      the bases. Oh, and what about all the businesses that will have to close in the
      towns these bases are in? That would bring the number to over a million newly
      unemployed. More on the unemployment rolls. More on food stamps, more on
      welfare. Then there are the vast numbers of foreclosures, bankruptcies,
      defaults. That will cement obama’s status as the worse president in the history
      of this country. There is more, but why bother. The country will have been
      destroyed by then. THANK YOU obama AND libers!!!

      However, I guess there will be a silver lining. At least we will not have
      to worry about immigration reform. Things will be so bad here, that people will
      be sneaking into Mexico for jobs.

      • Mark Samuels

        Yo Carol, this Liberal of which you insult attended military college, and served six years during Nam. I lost my left bicep, almost two feet of my large intestine, and have an 8 inch scar running from my left ear across the top of my skull. Get a life, Its not Liberals gutting the military, we serve in equal numbers as Conservatives.

        • Carol Skelton

          Well, Mark. Thank you for your service.
          I have a friend who servered in Viet Nam, as did my husband. Both were exposed to Agent Orange. Our friend is dying and the VA refuses to acknowledge his exposure. He has documentation from some of the best doctors in the country. They still refuse. Says it would cost them too much.
          They both happen to agree with me. The libs are gutting the military just like Carter did.
          Don’t even begin to tell me I don’t know what anything. I thanked you for your service, which I truly ment. I DO NOT have to agree with your political view. Just as you do not have to agree with mine. Oh, and you are wrong about equal numbers. If there were equal numbers, then there would not be the stalemate in DC. The liberals want a nanny state, where everyone goes to the governement like Oliver Twist, saying “Sir, may I have more.” The conservatives want to get this country working again because they know that nanny states do not work.

    • Jason Wissel

      HERE HERE!!!!!! Maybe we can start by cutting jobs at the Fed and the I.R.S.!!!

  • Evelyn

    Apparently our government is continuing with its efforts to neuter our military. Soon we will not be able to defend our country within its own borders.
    The ultra liberal progressives push to establish a socialist/communist system of government in America is going strong. They are constantly chopping away at the Constitution, and our rights are disappearing faster than we know.

    • Lynn Berg

      Yes, this is all due to the socialist current administration, and has nothing at all to do with the disfunctional, Republican-led House that can’t pass a defense appropriations bill. Or the sagging economy. Or the Federal budget deficit. Or the drawdown from two protracted Middle East conflicts. Or the enormous bills for defense hardware from industy.

      • Carol Skelton

        Question. Why is it so hard for the libers to remember that sequestar is obama’s idea? Why is it so hard to remember that he told his cohorts in crime to cut where it would hurt the most? Oh, wait. Forgot. libers are already brainwashed.

        • Mark Samuels

          Why is it so hard to understand, the House sent budget after budget to the Senate, even though they were told there were DOA as designed. As for brainwashed, that would be the 51% of folks who earn under $75k that voted for Romney, thus policy from which they would not benefit. Thankfully, 49% of us Liberals who earn over $75k voted Democrat, saving the brainwashed lower income GOP voters from their own stupidity.

          • Carol Skelton

            OH, so now you are saying that only the 49% of liberals who earned over $75k and smart and the rest of us are STUPID? Good to know Mark. Good to know. Well, if the liberals who earn over $75k are do damn smart, answer this question. Why are over 100,000 people going to lose their jobs, businesses, and homes? Why are the unemployment ranks going to swell that way? Just exactly WHAT is this country going to do? Maybe you can get on you hot line to czar obama and queen pelosi and the rest of you liber friends who are soooo smart because the earn sooooo much money and find out. Then, you can funnel that info down to the rest
            of us poor, stupid, brainwashed lower income people.
            Mark, you are the biggest bigot and racist I have ever had the misfortune of speaking with. Please, take you horse manure and peddle it somewhere else. Maybe the White House is looking for a gardener. On second thought, check with pelosi.
            There is enough manure in DC to keep that city green till the end of obama’s term! People like you are why this country is in such bad shape today.

      • jerry2919

        And yet Obama has never had a budget since he has been in office. He can’t get a single Democrat to even vote yes on it. Maybe you should take a look at that.

    • Mark Samuels

      Really are you that blind, Liberals were called the War Party until Post Viet Nam. Just as many Liberals served/served as Conservatives, myself included during Nam. As for the Constitution, it was a GOP dominated House & Senate thae created and enacted the Freedom Act. They also created Homeland Security, what is now the largest department in the government, all to spy on Americans. Both parties are working against the country in order to keep the cash flowing into their campaigns.

      • UH34D

        Well Mark, at least you’ve got the picture focused correctly. It’s all about the perks, and job retention for those in Congress. Both sides of the aisle play the same game, and yet, the American electorate keeps falling for their campaign bs at election time and the vast majority remain in office simply because most Americans are too lazy to educate themselves.

        The D’s and R’s have a stranglehold on the electoral process. As long as it continues, we will get candidates served up to us that are mediocre at best. Americans have to end their addiction to the two Party system. It didn’t exist at the Founding of our Nation, didn’t exist for a number of years.

  • Matt

    You do understand that if you cut 80,000 troops from the Army that all 80,000 will go on unemployment. We as Americans will have to pay them one way or the other. Me, I would rather have a soldier then an American on unemployment.

    • geoff

      Matt, but don’t you see this is the point to have more people on either unemployment or welfare!!!

      • Jason Wissel

        Why do you assume we have to pay for these people. When you say that you just reinforce a stereotype that the military is just another form of welfare. Also, where are these troops needed? Shall we have another war to justify their jobs?
        I have enough faith in the caliber of our soldiers that they can achieve in life without a government paycheck.

    • Joey half a dozen of NJ

      Amen to that brother

  • Matt

    where are the JOBS for these guy’s and gal’s Barry?

    • Trenchtown Rocket

      They are non-existent. Many of these good people will do the same thing that so many unemployed Americans have already done and just drop out of the employment picture all together until these dead beat, business destroying, useless clowns in the White House are finally gone forever. And with Obamacare set to kick in any day now, working TWO PART TIME jobs with NO BENEFITS will now become the new ‘normal’ for Americans like these good folks. Very sad indeed.

      • Harlem Journals Sunjata

        Or like so many today, failing to find employment at all. Given the fact that many will return with PTSD already with them and to mass unemployment, I would not be so ready for them to return or be in my community as is the case. We have the delay also in veteran’s receiving medical care or disability determinations. The tip of the iceberg is what people are identifying. Not nearly what is going on with those who are either soldiers, veterans, victims or those who still bear witness to what they have survived physically or perhaps not physically or mentally, simply coming home. Simply about to become unemployed.

  • FSHNT21

    Well, if we cut the units the Military has and ADD to the troops DHS has, at least Barry will have kept ONE of his campaign promises….
    To have a civilian force equal to our military….
    Then he’s not bothered by those silly military regulations when he turns them loose on the civilian population….
    Also gives you an idea why DHS is buying 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition….
    This guy HAS to go…..

  • Roger Bartlett

    Presumably this will mean a cut of at least a dozen Brigadier Generals and several higher level generals.

  • cat

    removing US troops from so many of the other countries will benefit many–and troop power could be used in peace type situations instead of dying on foreign soil. US should not be the world police — if people want to toss out their existing political heirarchy let them figure it out for themselves–same with sending so much $$ and arms to Israel — they’ve got a lot of bucks they can solicit donations from their rich friends.

  • Steve

    If the 10-year, $500 billion cut in defense spending known as
    sequestration plays out in full, as looks possible, Odierno has
    repeatedly said that the Army is going to have to cut up to 100,000 more
    troops — and not just from the regular active-duty Army, which has
    taken almost all the cuts so far (80,000 personnel), but also from the
    Army Reserve and National Guard, which have been almost entirely spared
    (losing only 8,000). What’s more, today’s announcements made clear that
    because the cushion of “temporary end strength” troops is gone, the next
    cut will bite much more deeply into combat units.
    Not only will 100K families be affected by this cut, so will all the businesses that were supported by their patronage. Not too mention we will have 100K less trained and ready troops to defend our Nation. Well done O.

    • jerry2919

      Those Dems will protect up with the protest signs they will make.

  • Fred

    How about massive cuts in govt employees….the layers should be reduced…not our military

  • Bob

    They would do better to cut michelle obama’s staff and obama’s vacation allowance.

    • Harlem Journals Sunjata

      We did not do it before. We did not cut the spending of Mrs. Bush, Mrs. Bush, Mrs. Clinton or Mrs. Clinton. Also, we have had this to happen for other reasons such as we were not in direct combat or conflict and thus many, many soldiers where tossed out of the army who only knew infantry. This is not the first time, after Vietnam there were not as many soldiers. Usually the build up comes with something happening which threatens us. Remember, Bush had us looking for weapons of mass destruction after the towers fell. Many enlisted out of patriotism, along with those who could not gain employment or an education out here. To say that it is Michelle’s fault and unlike Jackie O. she does not spend nearly as much, or that the Obama’s going on vacation is he cause maybe more due to bigotry than reality. The Obama’s have actually gone on less vacations than the Bushes ever did, but then they were probably judged by what they failed to do and what they did behind secrecy, than what they actually did for this country.

    • Mark Samuels

      Did you whine when bush took two trips to Africa, and Laura Bush 6 trips, including safari’s with daughters?

  • brian

    way to go oduma have fun on your vacation idiot !!

  • Stew

    Foolish, while Russia and China expand their military influence across the Globe the U.S. military under Obama administration becomes weaker. Teddy Roosevelt said it many years ago and I am paraphrasing. “Speak softly and carry a big stick”. In other words practice diplomacy but have a strong military.

    • jerry2919

      If you want peace, prepare for war. Good post.

  • Ex-pat.

    Want to save some money? Pull out of Afgan right now! And stop the dollar flow to Karzai- the end result will be the same, no peace or democracy in Afgan.

  • plewdawg

    The Air Force Academy just graduated a class. Obama couldn’t make it “for more important issues” but sent Biden. Perhaps it was getting ready for his $100 million trip to Africa. It is also a tradition that the Thunderbirds fly over during the hat toss but were cancelled due to sequester. Many speakers who were to appear couldn’t fly there due to sequester. The General of the Academy told Biden NOT to come. Many of the speaker generals were on inspection and training flights and had layovers in Colorado. As for a fly over? The CIVILIAN Confederate Air Force performed for them.

  • geoff

    This is another attempt to carry out the governments war on the very people i will say the same government sent to harms way in the first place!!!>so much for the saying ” Taking care of our soldiers”.

  • geoff

    Question: How many senators, Democrat or Republican, would make the list in ” Profiles in courage!!!

    Answer: Very few!!!

  • Susan Reilly Wood

    I see our President is again getting what he wants. First, 80,000 more people unemployed. Second, A country that isn’t going to be able to defend itself if the need arises. It’s so nice to see that the democrats have no problem with this. When will people wake up and see that we are a country just falling apart.

  • skeptic44

    The first level to shed staff should be at the General levels – at least double the percentage as actual fighting troops.

  • roger

    how many officers above the rank of lieutenant are included in these cuts

  • Bill

    If anything, we should be adding 10 or 11 or 12 or 13 Brigades.

  • Loulou72

    Whatever the amount of troop cuts, the ability of the Army to meet its assignments will be severely compromised. This happens as the U.S. faces a range of new post-cold war defense challenges around the world. We are on the brink of creating a hollow force.

  • Richard Kiene

    You’re only wanted when THEY need you.Saw guys in the ‘fat boy’ program getting ready to get chaptered out,the first Gulf War comes around.They get deployed,go to WAR,then get sh*t canned when the war is over.
    ‘Just can’t do enough for our vets.’
    RIGHT….

  • Lop_Eared_Galoot

    In addition to the 14 billion plus that the government has accumulated because it won’t stop breaking the law about balanced budgets, between 60 and 80 trillion more dollars in debt have accumulated thanks to the bailouts of commercial banks, the Freddy/Fanny real estate disaster; the GM underwrite so that they could move their factories to China; the stimulus/QE nonsense of paying the poor to be poor and of course covering the aging population as Social Security and Medicaid/Care assurance.

    I fail to see how 500 billion from the front or back end is going to noticeably change or improve this debt service when our currency falls flat on it’s face in the 2 years.

    That said, there are two OBVIOUS things that the U.S. Army could do which would be functionally useful as well as save us the trouble of watching our world leading criminal incarceration rate skyrocket when trained killers flood into a job market still functionally in the 16-18% unemployment range (they don’t ‘count’ those who have stopped looking or who are employed at less than 30hrs a week as being not adequately employed).

    1. Develop Robotics.

    On a Manhattan Projects level scale. Both as anthropomorphic and as vehicle based systems. It is simply too clear to me that ‘the same ol’ way’ as maintenance of manned systems as overlapping force protection and force structure metrics are being abused to maintain the orientation of the Army as a force for and led by living sentients. Even when Iraq and AfG have shown us that manned presence on the battlefield is all but untenable using such simple methods as IEDs.

    If we were to commit to a 60% robotics percentage mission capability by 2019, the cuts which we would need to make and the force structure changes which would result (no more 60 ton MBT or GCV for one) would be more intuitive on a “What, you’re sparing the robot to send us all to the poor house?” basis.

    Robots don’t get paid. Robots don’t exit the service on a two or four year contract commitment, the first half of which they are all but useless because they are inadequately trained (a problem which will get worse as cuts deepen and readiness continues to take the first hit to sustain career soldiers at minimum pay and housing).

    Robots can be deployed to combat in densities (think ‘Phantom Menace’ with racked BD-1s) no human can match after spending YEARS in a wooden-round condition of storage.

    Robots can do the CS/CSS mission, integrally with the combat teams because they don’t need to sleep (and if they are, in fact, automated vehicles, are not commited to a combat role so much as vehicle logstics one).

    Finally, given this nation is falling in upon itself with the idea that we must import new wage slaves to replace the ‘settled Americans’ that were their grandfathers, the availability of cheap, ex-government, robotics might be one way to yank this society forward into the 21st century instead of seeing it fall back towards the 19th. Selling expensive systems into useful civilian roles allows for milspec tech to be functionally useful past it’s life as a weapon.

    2. Keep The Tail, Pull The Tooth.

    I know this is counter intuitive but it has a method to the madness. First off, the reason that the USAr maintains such a plethora of unassigned units is so that they can mix and match manpower vs. deployment type needs on a scratch team basis of adhoc TFs and Team support. This is a GIANT labor pool which is usually relatively competent at whatever you task them too (short of high intensity infantry operations) because it has the old wardog NCO and officer ranks who have BTDT a little bit of everything.

    Should the Chinese ever invade Europe via the Middle East, these units, can be cascaded forwards, into combat, using the modern day equivalent of the Roman ‘Vexillatio’ system to raise competencies in garrisons formerly occupied by units now in active combat and they can do so on a hybrid basis because the overall organizational TOEs are not directly funded. In this, the idea of breaking down combat brigade HQ&M companies is nothing new.

    What -is- new or at least a return to something which once worked rather well for Rome, is the recognition that for every BCT ready to deploy a company into combat, you have four fifths of the remaining garrison force out doing civil engineering tasks.

    Building roads, hospitals, government buildings, housing.

    And guess who has both the equipment (dozers, trucks, heavy lift gear) and the EXPERTISE to do the kinds of infrastructure maintenance which America desperately needs? It ain’t the combat units. It’s the Combat Service and Service Support elements.

    If you want to keep American men and women in uniform as another form of social welfare support to take the dangerous HG instinct out of the population, that’s fine. But they cannot solely be a force in waiting for the once every generation war frequency of utilization rate in their principle mission. We cannot afford the paranoia without the secondary strong-back utilization option as sustainment.

    Obviously, if you train someone to be a mechanic or a construction worker and pay them the equivalent of minimum wage ‘plus army food and cheap housing’, they will be -thrilled- to receive anything up to twice that, sans benefits, when they leave the military with job skills they can actualy use in the civilian market.

    One female Patriot battery commander who had a hundred million dollars worth of S2A death and destruction under her dainty finger came home to find that she had bought her four year Army Program as college credits at the cost of being EIGHT YEARS BEHIND the rest of her age group in the work force. Her service commitment did not occur in a void of competition as those who stayed home and paid their college debts with cruddy make work now had both a resume` and an educational précis` she could not match. Since companies seldom hire people in the 27-30 age range for fear of their sudden acquisition of family and health complications as attached benefit payouts and salary expectations, we really ‘owe it to our wariors’ to provide on the job training that is instantly applicable outside their kill-me-another warrior specialties.

    Just as we owe it to ourselves not to import endless hordes of fresh wage slaves and call it immigration reform.

    If we cannot pay to keep our society as it’s founding population cultural norms in play, tell me, what exactly are we ‘defending’ anyway?

    Here’s something to think about:

    The DARPA Mule and Crusher vehicles are within 10-15% of being road-safe autonomous. Cross country they are already better drivers than most humans with an innately superior ontologic integration between digital terrain databases, wide FOV cameras and narrow FOV laser radars or MMW obstacle ranging. The don’t get themselves into positions which they have to ‘back up and try again’ negotiate obstacles and when linked together (each vehicle tracking the one next to it) they have nearly perfect formation coordination in the traditional measures of echelon and chevron shifts and refusals around terrain features.

    A CKEM is a miniature LOSAT which is to say a Sabot round powered by a rocket instead of a powder charge and thus without the Newtonian Physics requirement of 50 tons worth of steel as recoil absorption. CKEM doesn’t have it’s progenitors absolute ballistic overmatch (2,000mm vs. 800-950mm RHA equivalent) nor it’s range (2-3km vs. 6-8km). But it maintains the key advantage which LOSAT offered as a range gated FLIR with the ability to treat armor threats the same way an aircraft radar treats multiple ‘Track While Scan’ bogies: as individual trackfiles with timeshare updating. Firing missiles in a constant ripple, this allows CKEM to engage 4-6 targets, near-simultaneously rather than ‘as fast the loader can sling a replacement’.

    What this means is that, in a condition where the number of rounds delivered in the first ten seconds matters more than the number of rounds delivered per minute as a function of absolute attritional reduction of counterfire before it can level the odds, these vehicles have another advantage: size. The Mule is roughly the size of Mutt Jeep. The Crusher is perhaps closer to a HMMWV.

    A reduction in size (no crew compartment) translates to an enormous shrinkage of vulnerable area as silhouette subject to strikes and with the recently AMAP-ADS which was tested and approved (by the Army Automotive Command) as the sole Automatic Protection System which defeated the full spectrum threat in a 400kg size or smaller, the area requiring high order ballistic protection shrinks even more.

    This in turn means that you are now capable of fielding ‘armor’ which gets 10-15mpg instead of 2 gallons per mile. Which reduces vulnerability of the followon logistics trains that have to be virtually imbedded in-column to sustain an Abrams level capability.

    Clearly, it also effects the number of such vehicles which can be scratch force assembled and delivered to a forced entry, A2AD conditioned, theater environment via a single C-17.

    The low roofline does effect sensor horizons which means a mast is necessary but this in turn suggests the possibility of lofting rounds based on remote ‘shooter:illuminator’ CONOPS rather than always accepting a LOS fight. Where the CKEM is a hypervelocity round, just as with mistaken entry of HEAT into an APFSDS loaded tube, the slightest increase in commanded elevation can -greatly- increase total flyout footprint and thus provides the option for topattack and multimission soft target (airburst) engagement modes.

    Six vehicles mounting six CKEM each = 36 engagements which have a much higher SSPK (because the LIDAR tracks the missile and issues course corrections allowing for coarse to become fine target track, inflight…) than individual shots from a conventional tubed MBT.

    While some might argue that this is still less than a single Abrams can deliver as -total- fires, the reality is that when armor masses in the fashion of WARPAC CENTFRONT attack doctrine, we will most likely effect engagement via other methods such as SADARM or SFW which are optimized to handle such multi-target threat conditions.

    A backup light autocannon (Mk.44 30mm) could provide for secondary softtarget engagement at lower levels of expenditure cost and higher onboard ammo counts.

    At the same time, for the cavalry mission as screen and infantry support, the ability to remove the Anti Armor package and supplant it with rifle caliber weapons and perhaps a small breach loading mortar such as Nemo within the restricted balance footprint (as condensed volume) of an unmanned turret would allow one vehicle to serve as two or even three mission capabilities, simply by plug’n'play reconfiguration at local base depots to match expected mission threats.

    ARGUMENT:

    It is time we stopped thinking in terms of ‘necessary cuts’ as losses of extant warfighting capability from two wars before.

    It’s time we considered that China is increasingly going to pull a Roosevelt Correlate to her own Monroe Doctrine and if we try and bull our way around the PacRim, at the limits of our logistical reach and within easy PLA reinforcement by a soon to be superior Chinese industrial base, we will get our noses pushed in. Hard.

    If we are not going to fight a near peer on an equal battlefield and lose according to simple Lanchester Rules, we must be willing to switch to all-guideds, high precision, Salvo Model sophistication. Where shots are presumed to hit, unless they are physically intercepted. And all shots arrive near simultaneously to restrict the total number of LER cycles before resolution.

    At the same time, we may need to simply accept that the rising power of the East cannot be beaten in the Dragon’s Lair. But must, at best, be spoilt as function of Air-Sea’s implicit emphasis upon shutting down logistical maritime links in sourcing materials and sustaining trade. Twice, already, this strategy has worked and only the misdirection of it’s focussed purpose as allowed Western civilization to escape the crushing effects of submarine warfare as strategic blockade.

    If the nature of the theater demands this, it may be that the USAr’s best contribution to our defense is simply to limit the damage done to other services opplanning by taking the brunt of the budget austerity measures.

    Yet even so, the Army can contribute to our national defense in ways that can, functionally, contribute more to the peace than they would to winning any Pacific Pivot war.

    If only they will first look to the roles and missions that are essentially being allowed to civil-legacy lapse entirely in our own territories. And pick up a hammer and a pick to rebuild them as good Roman troops would.

    Robotics can help here too. Because they will allow us to reconfigure our society to a competitive (non social welfare dominated) level in the face of China’s massive population reserves which she simply burns as wood to power her own infrastructure expansion to first world status.

    CONCLUSION:

    It is absolutely essential that those charged with securing us in war, consider how they might best turn their massive organizational advantages to levering up the peace as well. The Army leads here because they are first and foremost a ground level effector that lives where the civilian population does with the same dependence on provision of food and water and POL and spares across a secure transport and services base of projected power.

    A base which is sadly degraded in our own country.

    If we must become socialist to deploy our armed forces outside the ‘make a buck or walk away’ conditioned limits of an economy on the brink, then that too is a strategy the Army must be prepared to present before Congress for funding of their own utility. And to win in the eyes of the American People as a battle to hold onto who we are.

    KPl.

    • Jeff Anderson

      Some interesting obsevations and ideas. I hope the last sentence is more prophetic than the one before it. Thank you for sharing this well written post.

  • Krehator

    I told people that hiring all those civilians was going to come back to haunt us. They are embedded deep now. Frankly, our soldiers can no longer pick up the slack even if they wanted to. They are swamped with red-tape motivated by leaders who think they are CEO’s at ENRON.

    Additionally, maybe someone should tell BN and above Commanders it’s not cool to buy million dollar tent systems, or millions on cool video gear just so they make the TOC look like NORAD?

    Maybe someone should cap prices on the GSA raiders so units stop paying $80 for toilet paper?

    Maybe someone should tell the military its not okay to pay $4000 for the exact same laptops that can be bought off the shelf for $1000?

    I could go on. I’ve seen the receipts with my own eyes.

    We could keep all the soldiers if someone with common sense was checking price tags.

    Firing our troops is the easy way out for people who cannot help but serve the military industrial complex.