Military Shrinking, Danger Ahead

The United States of America has always enjoyed a national security and military advantage not afforded to other countries by virtue of being separated from much of the world by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It has provided both safety and a temporal barrier that has given us time and space in which to plan for war.

Other than the War of 1812 and some Mexican border escapades, the US mainland has never really been threatened in a meaningful way. We have never suffered the fate of London or Paris or Berlin.

The Germans in WWII were able to bring the fight to our home waters on the Atlantic with their subs and the Japs shelled the west coast but other than that, these oceans have served us well.

The terrorists of 9-11 broke that safe barrier with their attack.

We live in a different world. That world has a resurgent traditional military threat (Russia, China) and an asymmetrical warfare threat. It has become more, not less, complicated.

The Army

The Boss loves the Army. Born into it by parents both of whom served in World War II and a father who was a professional soldier. Educated at Virginia Military Institute, it was the family business though he only stayed for just short of six years. He was a Regular with all that that entailed. He was good at it and his OERs (officer efficiency reports) showed that.

Dad in the Army0001

The Boss’s father three weeks before the outbreak of World War II on maneuvers. He would fight in Italy getting a battlefield commission and ending the war capturing a German railway battalion north of Trieste.

On the tail end of Viet Nam, he got out of the Army wanting to explore life — he’d never drank a glass of water that hadn’t been provided by the Army through age 27 — and never returned. No regrets.

Still, he learned a few things about the Army and developed a keen appreciation for soldiering. Soldiering is what you learn when you spend time running actual military outfits like platoons and companies. There is no job in the world better than being a combat engineer company commander. It is like being a feudal Chinese warlord.

But, it carries a burden. The Boss had to write a few of those letters to mothers to tell them how their son’s life had been lost while entrusted to him. It makes soldiering a serious business and it makes you want to be good at it.

The Army is broken and dying

The Army has been grinding itself into dust with continuous deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last twenty-five years. It was already tough duty with young officers and soldiers expected to spend time in Germany, Korea and other foreign postings even before the Middle East burst into flames.

Reserve and National Guard units have been used as a proxy for Regular Army units because the force structure had dwindled to an anemic level. We will field a Regular Army just shy of pre-World War II levels at a time when the tooth-to-tail ratio (warfighters v supporting units) is at an all time low.

Because of this declining tooth-to-tail ratio, the numbers are actually much worse than they seem and they seem pretty bad to start with.

Abandoned strategy

The White House and the Pentagon have abandoned a cornerstone of American strategic planning — the ability to fight and win two major wars simultaneously. This has been American strategic doctrine since we had to live through it in World War II when we simultaneously fought the Germans and the Japs in geographically far flung wars and with dramatically different tactics.

The wisdom of this strategy — when faced with a European threat in a resurgent Russia and a Pacific threat in a similarly aggressive China — is of even more importance today when one throws in the Middle East in which the War on Terror has taken up the entire focus of the American military.

Let’s be clear — we have abandoned this strategy not because it is wrong but because the Congress and the administration have diverted the requisite funding to other issues which are driven by our anemic economy and the foolish prioritization of social programs over national security.

Economic performance — 0.5% GDP growth in the most recent quarter, y’all, that’s ANEMIC — is the cornerstone of our entire nation, including national security.

This is all about money and resource allocation. The Congress is a partner with the Obama administration in gutting the military.

Bottom line — we could be faced with more than two military confrontations and we currently face adversaries who will base their judgments to go to war on our ability to  fight them at a time and place of their choosing.

Throw in Afghanistan, not really a Middle Eastern country, and Iran and North Korea and Taiwan and we are living in a very dangerous neighborhood, indeed.

This is the wrong time to abandon a bedrock strategic doctrine like the “two war” doctrine which has guided the size and lethal capabilities of our military force structure for 75 years.

Global warming/climate change

The President, the Commander-in-Chief, has said (and the Sec Def has echoed) that global warming/climate change is our greatest security challenge.

That is simply not true. Not true. Not close to being true. Walter Reed will not be filled up with casualties from global warming/climate change. Ever. Total, liberal, pipe dream bullshit.

This misguided strategic utterance is not only wrong, it is diverting the military’s manpower and resource allocation at a time of incredibly thin gruel. We are feeding the wrong angels and ignoring the right ones. The future is written by the angels you feed and the ones you starve — military readiness — die of that starvation. Military readiness — aircraft carrier battle groups in port because they cannot afford to pay at the pump for their fuel — is a victim here. Know this.

The Army exists to find, fix, and kill our enemies.

It is bad enough that we have abandoned the appropriate strategy — two war strategy — but it is sacrilege that we are praying at the feet of a false god in global warming/climate change.

Social experimentation

The Army has been forced to expend enormous amounts of time and treasure and manpower on social experiments that are of no positive value to our warfighting capabilities and which are, clearly, detrimental to the same warfighting capabilities. It is not a zero sum game. It is inflicting real damage on our ability to fight and win.

President Obama (in concert with pliable Pentagon staff and a cadre of compliant Generals, except for the US Marine Corps) has injected incredible social engineering distractions into the military.

The Army is concerned with the makeup of its forces from the perspective of sexual orientation (among other considerations) spending enormous amounts of leadership time on such issues as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, transgender access to service, self-identification of gender, women serving in combat units, women achieving elite warrior status, the naming of individual warriors, confronting white privilege, sexual sensitivity in the workplace, and the aforementioned global warming/climate change.

There is no evidence that any of these initiatives has IMPROVED warfighting capabilities while there is enormous evidence that policies, such as including women in combat units, has DAMAGED warfighting capabilities, unit cohesion, morale, and recruitment.

It has not been a subtle effort. Soldiers have been subjected to direct assault by utterances such as:

“Our society attaches privilege to being white and male and heterosexual.”

This is a line for the culture wars, not the military. It has nothing to do with fighting and winning.

The General officer corps

Perhaps the most disappointing element of this social experimentation is the witting compliance of the General officer corps (with the exception of the Marines) who have bowed and scraped to an increasingly liberal civilian oversight of their stewardship of our soldiers. Not one General serving on active duty has called “bullshit” on the idea that women — incapable of dragging a 250 lbs. wounded soldier to safety — should be included in combat arms units such as Infantry, Armor, Combat Engineers.

The Marines have.

USMC commandant Gen Dunford

USMC General Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (former Commandant of the US Marine Corps)

Not one single General officer has said that the inclusion of women in Ranger School is a charade. It clearly is. The three women who received their coveted Ranger tabs (whose records have come up missing, wink, wink) no more passed that rugged training than the Big Red Car is a prima ballerina.

Shame on the General officer corps for bending their knees at the altar of social experimentation. Grow a pair and speak up. You are the stewards of our nation’s safety. Valley Forge. Normandy. Get off your knees and tell the truth. You are commanding a force which is being hollowed out. Speak the truth.

A word of balance here — as society changes, there is no reason why the military should not reflect that society. When integration came to the Army in the Truman administration, the Army was reflecting the reality of society. In addition, the Army needed male bayonet strength. This is not the same thing.

In the instances noted above, the military is being force fed social experiments. Integration resulted in a stronger and more capable fighting force. The inclusion of transgender bathrooms will, likely, not.

There are good, tough jobs for women in the military — the Big Red Car applauds women who fly Warthog A-10s and who take the fight to our enemies. This is because they can actually do that job as well as a man. It is not an artificial capability; it is real.

Last point — where did the notion that four star Generals required press officers come from? Why are generals acting like politicians? Why?

Answer — because they have become political sycophants rather than warrior chieftains.

Size of forces

While the things notes above are of real concern to anyone who has ever had to make a disparate group of people fight together and win, there is another element which is just raw size.

The Army will be as small as the pre-World War II force shortly.

The Navy is less than half the size it was less than two decades ago.

The Air Force is faced with a similar shrinking force structure.

Our Reserves, National Guard are older, ground down, and less capable while the Pentagon cannot execute the “one war” strategy without relying on them.

We are shrinking at a time that China is growing in danger with their military build up in gross terms but also their building of an aircraft carrier based navy, a blue water navy, the growth of a submarine fleet which aspires to roam freely in the Pacific approaching our west coast while armed with nuclear missiles, and the wholesale arming of islands — stationary aircraft carriers which can project force up to a thousand miles in all directions as well as be used as a launching pad for shore-to-ship and ground-to-air missiles.

Russia is resurgent. We seem to forget they seized the Crimea. They took it by force of arms. We sent the Ukrainians bandages. Bandages.

The Russians are currently engaged in a similar unvarnished military assault in the Ukraine and are lusting after Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia which all have the misfortune of being NATO members who could invoke Article 5 of the Atlantic Treaty (an attack on one is an attack on all) at a time when the US has withdrawn all of its tanks from Europe.

We are shrinking at a time we should be expanding. We are consolidating at a time that our enemies are growing. Our enemies are filling those voids and they are beginning to act in concert. The Russians and the Chinese will coordinate their actions. They cannot fail to.

Our actions increase the probability that either Russia or China will test us and test us hard. Know this, what Putin did in the Crimea would have had the same outcome whether the Ukraine had been a member of NATO or not. We did not have the capability or the political will to resist Putin in Russia which has emboldened him to look for similar locations in which to test us.

The military compact

When America sends a soldier to war, there is an agreement. The nation promises that if the man is wounded he will be administered to and healed by the Army or, if discharged, by the Veteran’s Administration.

The compact further promises that if you serve honorably, going in harm’s way at the nation’s whim, you may retire at twenty years of service. Those who are buried in Arlington Cemetery, do not get a chance to retire. It is a tough deal.

IMG_0835

Military cemetery in Texas in vicinity of Fort Hood, Hill Country in the background. Godspeed, good and faithful warriors. A grateful nation mourns your death.

We have grossly failed the American fighting man. Not only have we shortened his compensation, diminished his benefits, we have thrust him into a Veteran’s Administration which is corrupt and who is able to kill our soldiers, through its corruption and ineptitude, as ably as the Taliban or ISIS.

Shame on us all. Shame on the White House, the Pentagon, the General officer corps for having failed to keep our end of the compact. Shame, shame, shame.

Lady Liberty Weeping

Asymmetric warfare

Before I go silent, one word or two about asymmetric warfare. Warfare against enemies who are not necessarily sovereign nations and who do not operate from behind national borders but who launch their attacks against America from the minds of their followers. Followers of an idea rather than a national creed.

Radical Islamic Terrorists

This is not a replacement threat. This is an additional threat. While we may counter this threat with the use of special forces, those same forces will not be effective in a land war in Europe or Asia. The use of special operations is targeted against and effective against specific foes and not a general military solution.

This creates another problem. Much of our military prowess and investment is in formations and units that will not be useful against Russia or China.

Let me close by saying — Do not despair. We have routinely contracted and expanded our military forces to meet new and different threats. We can do this but it will require a sober assessment of the real threat — it is not global warming/climate change/antarctic ice/polar bear population — and an equally sober assessment of the impact of social engineering on our warfighting capabilities.

The Big Red Car doesn’t expect the military to reverse some of these social experiments. Some, yes. Women in the combat arms will sort itself out when they actually arrive. It will be an experiment with very poor results.

The commander-in-chief is not the social-experimenter-in-chief.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be kind to a soldier. That is all that stands between you and chaos.cropped-LTFD-illust_300.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • sigmaalgebra

    Excellent!

    Nearly all of that situation is from decisions made in DC by people elected by US voters. That is, we do have a democracy, and we get the government we vote for and, thus, deserve.

    We are having a shockingly surprisingly difficult time finding leaders who can understand how it is, tell us it how it is, and lead us to do the usually fairly obvious right things instead of the essentially brain-dead, wacko political correctness, false goals, silly worries, general incompetence, shooting ourselves in the gut, etc.

    What are the fundamentals here? Politics driven by money from people trying to make money in ways good for them but harmful for the nation? A news industry that does a poor job keeping people informed and, instead, tries to get ad revenue from getting readers from absurd content to get attention? A news industry for some reason locked into leftist positions, no matter how brain-dead? Readers who don’t scream bloody murder at the fact that the situation in this thread today has not been among the most important headlines, with followup stories with lots of details, numerical data, graphs, etc., for decades?

    Likely there will always be nonsense floating around. Part of our job, then, is to detect, filter out, maybe rebut the nonsense. We have swallowed an ocean of sewage nonsense since just after Gulf War I. We did so well in Gulf War I, at least for the military part, likely in part because of the nonsense we swallowed that got us into Viet Nam.

    Some of the nonsense:

    CO2 from human sources is causing dangerous climate change. Nonsense. Why? CO2 even from all sources, humans, volcanoes, rotting vegetation, etc. is not causing significant climate change. How do we know? Just take a simple look at the readily available data and observe, there is no fit, that is, temperature variations do not correspond to CO2 concentration variations. E.g., for the temperature and CO2 variations going back nearly 1 million years from the ice cores from the Vostok station in Antarctica, just read the graph, just the graph that Al Gore displayed in his movie: The CO2 concentrations went up about 800 years after the temperature went up. So, clearly the rise in CO2 concentrations did not cause the rise in temperature 800 years earlier. For more, and more recently, look at the temperature changes of the past 2000 years and see that there is nothing in CO2 changes that explains the several significant periods of temperature change. Net, yes, the climate changes, but there is nothing in the data that suggests that CO2 has been the cause. This is all just simple and obvious at, say, the fourth grade, but there are a lot of people, e.g., the NYT, all convinced about the dangers of CO2 from human activities and, in response, have been throwing money at various green projects and trying to cut back on uses of fossil fuels. Dangerous.

    For another, the crash of 2008 has been nearly as serious as the one of 1929. Since 2008, we have been smarter about fiscal and monetary stimulus, but by now we have been in The Great Recession from the crash of 2008 for 8 years, that is, already 2/3rds as long as in The Great Depression. So, the crash of 2008 was serious. But we know how we created the crash of 2008, and various people saw it coming. Still, we did nothing about it until there was an actual crash. Totally foolish.

    For another, somehow W just got an idea that we should dump Saddam and install a secular, constitutional, parliamentary democracy in Iraq. He believed that “The Iraqi people are perfectly capable of governing themselves.”. Paul Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army and, thus, put about 6 million Iraqi soldiers on the streets with the stockpiles of guns, bombs, etc. in their hands. Many thousands of thugs, criminals, gangs, ambitious politicians, ambitious clerics, international opportunists saw the fertile ground for chaos and charged in — W and team didn’t see this. We blew lots of precious US blood and treasure, and situation is still much worse than before W went in.

    We elected Obama, twice. We knew who and what he was. And the news industry is still negligent in reporting what Obama has done and is doing to harm the US.

    Although the news industry has not emphasized and reported clear numerical data, it appears that Obama is importing tens of thousands of people from Syria. Clearly there stand to be ISIS soldiers among those people. So, Obama is importing ISIS soldiers — radical Islamic terrorists — into the US. We shouldn’t do that.

    In Trump’s recent speech on US foreign policy, there is:

    If President Obama’s goal had been to weaken America, he could not have done a better job.

    But the US voted for Obama, twice. A huge fraction of the news industry supported him.

    We’ve done this to ourselves. We are extracting miserable defeat from the jaws of magnificent victory — we shouldn’t do that. We are in line to pay a very big price.

    • JLM

      .
      There is something else even more fundamental and shocking — we have almost no veterans in the White House and we have the most ambitious General officer corps ever.

      The lack of veterans means we don’t have anyone who has ever been a soldier. Anyone who understands the fragility of unit esprit de corps or morale.

      The President, who must approve every promotion for a man with a star, has filled the top echelons with men who will follow orders, his orders. It is like grammar school “social promotion.”

      Only the Marines are exempt, apparently.

      If you have two stars (Division commander) and want a third or a fourth, you will not pick a fight with the administration.

      You would think that the nonsense of putting women in command of infantry platoons would have some General on the verge of retirement calling bullshit on him.

      BRC
      http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

      • sigmaalgebra

        Yes, I’m getting a suspicion that Trump will make a huge number of new appointments based on competence instead of political correctness, political subservience, or social engineering.

        • JLM

          .
          Trump will probably listen a little better.

          If you look at a guy like Petreaus, you can see why he (Princeton PhD) would get along w/ a guy like Obama while someone like Mad Dog Mattis (USMC) would not.

          The issue with Presidents is that all they have to do is to clear their throat and everyone in DC gets the message.

          Take the IRS — there’s no smoking guy out there but he probably said that he didn’t like all these right wing groups and that was all it took. Lois Lerner was a political beast. She got the message and behaved accordingly.

          Same thing is going to happen w/ HRC and the DOJ. Maybe, maybe, the FBI will force their hand but not bloody likely.

          A President promotes the Generals who reflect his world view of things.

          BRC
          http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

  • Mac

    Thanks, BRC. That about says it all.

  • JLM

    .
    The Big Red Car sounds the clarion call that America is headed in the wrong direction with size and social engineering implications while our enemies are growing in capabilities and aggression.

    http://themusingsofthebigredcar.com/5103-2/

    BRC
    http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com