Small Wars Journal

The Tension Between What the Army is and What it Does

The Tension Between What the Army is and What it Does by Gian Gentile, The National Interest

What is the heart of the United States Army?

Is the U.S. Army’s heart about cooperation and integration into one army made up of its three major component parts—the Regular Army, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve? Or is the heart of the Army fundamentally about fighting power and effectiveness?

The National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA) recently released its much-anticipated report to the president and the Congress. The NCFA took a stand in answering this question by emphasizing the absolute importance of the Army’s three components becoming one total force. Although the commission comes down on the side of one total force, it argues that doing so will enable the Army to be an effective fighting force as well.

The commission’s report thus manifests a tension between what the Army is—the relationship between its three components—and what the Army does—provide effective forces to fight the nation’s wars…

Read on.



Fri, 03/04/2016 - 3:16pm

This is interesting. If I see a document that says "win" or "seize the initiative" and does not include preemption, it isn't worth much and the writers have never been in a real gun fight and are living in a PC bubble. Bringing this to the tactical level of logic, the GI who can't or won't shoot first is at a terrible disadvantage and doesn't live long. I would go along with the heart of the Army must be about power and effectiveness. We should never be out-gunned.


Fri, 03/04/2016 - 12:52pm

The answer is neither. Both this, and the earlier debate that spawned the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, revolve around distribution of force structure -- and therefore basing, manpower, command structure, and operating resources -- between the National Guard and the rest of the Army. Moreover, within this debate, it's not just force structure, but combat arms force structure, which confers more influence when it comes to general officer billets, and training and readiness resources. Both commissions did a commendable job of considering the entire continuum of the Total Force, and the federal Reserve elements made appropriate noises so as to not be passively used as bill-payers, but ultimately, this comes down to the Guard retaining or growing its economic and political clout.