Small Wars Journal

Why America's Army Is Falling Apart

Why America's Army Is Falling Apart by Douglas Macgregor - The National Interest

Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told President Trump's nominee for Army Undersecretary, Ryan McCarthy, a Lockheed Martin Executive and former aid to Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, that “the U.S. Army is facing a crisis.” Senators drew attention to the Army's ever-growing multibillion-dollar acquisition graveyard including the titanic $20 Billion Future Combat System and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, a six-billion dollar failed communications program.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that qualified, fresh blood is desperately needed in the Army’s general officer ranks, as well as, in the office of the Army Secretariat. The Army does not need an unqualified hedge-fund manager, a flamboyant social engineer, or another “revolving door” defense industry executive committed to “business as usual.”

The Army is on track to lose more than money unless President Trump appoints a forceful and informed Secretary of the Army—one who is prepared to impose accountability on his generals and demand sweeping change. It’s going to lose the first battle of the next war. And, in the twenty-first century, Americans may not get a chance to fight a second battle.

The Army’s problems are not financial. Thanks to the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Army will receive an annual sum of $137 to $149 billion—a sum that is vastly larger than the Russian National Defense Budget. The failures in Army modernization and readiness are due to the Army generals’ fanatical resistance to fundamental organizational reform, prudent modernization and change in the way the Army must fight in the future…

Read on.


Let us consider that -- much as was the case after the Second World War -- likewise today after the Old Cold War -- the mission of the U.S. Army remains the same; this being, to support the following policy:


Our overall policy at the present time may be described as one designed to foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish. It therefore rejects the concept of isolation and affirms the necessity of our positive participation in the world community.

This broad intention embraces two subsidiary policies. One is a policy which we would probably pursue even if there were no Soviet threat. It is the policy of attempting to develop a healthy international community. ...

The policy of striving to develop a healthy international community is the long-term constructive effort which we are engaged in. It was this policy which gave rise to our vigorous sponsorship of the United Nations. It is of course the principal reason for our long continuing endeavors to create and now develop the Inter-American system. It, as much as containment, underlay our efforts to rehabilitate Western Europe. Most of our international economic activities can likewise be explained in terms of this policy.

END QUOTE… (See Page 21.)

Herein, the U.S. Army -- and indeed all of our instruments of power and persuasion today -- thus needing to be developed and deployed so as to (a) facilitate the achievement of our such stated, and indeed enduring, policy objectives and (b) overcome the -- contemporary -- obstacles and threats thereto?

(This such approach suggesting that the American Army (and indeed all our instruments of power and persuasion) exist -- then as now -- for reasons other than -- i.e., for reason in addition to -- simply "winning America's wars"/"prevailing in armed conflict?")

I flipped through Hackworth's <i>About Face</i> a few nights ago. I hadn't read it, or considered it much since I first picked it up back in 1990/91. I was struck by how similar the themes are to current circumstances (e.g., readiness, training issues, fluctuating standards, lack of strategy or clear objectives, etc.). Seems as though we really haven't resolved, or addressed those shortcomings as well as we thought we had in the afterglow of Desert Shield/Storm.