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Why an Army
With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, our economy stalled, and Defense spending scheduled for reductions, where should budget cuts be made?[i] The Navy and Air Force have made their case for “not cutting us” with the Air Sea Battle[ii] as a response to the national guidance to pivot to the Pacific[iii]. Army discussions have centered almost exclusively on personnel strength, 570k, 490k, 450k, and 420k.[iv] The number is without context unless one also understands what an Army of a certain size can and should do for our nation.
As many analysts searched for what our Army must do for America, they envisioned their answer as finding the Holy Grail or a golden nugget. Instead they should have been looking for a fabric with the threads of vital national interests woven among the elements of national power. Our Army contributes several significant threads of national power to the cloth of America’s Defense. In fact, a simple woven fabric may be an insufficient representation of our national defense. The more insightful mental picture of our national defense is better represented as a patchwork quilt. Each patch in the quilt represents the contribution from each element of our government towards the whole of government achieving all national interests. As each element of the government brings their patch of cloth to the quilt, the backing for the entire quilt is the faith and trust of all Americans that their government will keep them safe. To better understand the Army’s portion of this national quilt (National Defense) I will quickly review our national interests, review a little of our Army’s history, address who our future opponents might be, enabling everyone to see our Army’s contributions to achieving our National Defense and our national interests. These visible contributions illustrate why America needs an Army.
From the end of World War II to present America has applied force and used elements of national power to promote our national interests. These interests have not changed significantly over the years:
The 1953 NSC 162/2 states that the security of the US requires:[v]
- A strong military, with alliances and mobilization base
- A sound, strong, and growing economy operating through free institutions
- Morale and willingness of US people support national security
The 2010 National Security Strategy enduring security interests include:[vi]
- International Order
It is a simple task to connect a strong military and mobilization base to security, alliances to international order, growing economy to prosperity, and morale and willingness of the US people to values. America’s national interests have remained relatively constant for over half a century.
While our national interests remain fixed as our northern star, the fact is that this world we live in is changing. The National Intelligence Council in their Global Futures 2030 forecast 4 Mega-trends: Individual Empowerment; Diffusion of Power; Demographic Patterns (aging); and Food-Water-Energy Nexus.[vii] In this changing world, it is the integrated whole-of-government approach that is employed to address national issues and the application of national power that compels our adversaries to align themselves with our national interests. However, in this paper we are focused upon our Army’s contribution to national power and achieving our national interests. Let’s begin with a brief review of Army history.
Contemporary military pundits like to compare today’s Army to the Army coming out of Vietnam. Both times mark the end of a protracted conflict where the results were not definitive. However, there are several key differences: our post-Vietnam Army was a draftee army with many internal problems and today’s Army is an all-volunteer force with great professionalism; our post-Vietnam Army was considered inferior to the accepted threat of the day (Warsaw Pact) and today’s Army does not have an equal on the contemporary high-intensity battlefield.[viii]
As our Army was coming out of Vietnam we changed everything to prepare for the biggest threat on the horizon – the Warsaw Pact. The Army dissolved CONARC (Continental Army Command) and stood up TRADDOC (Training and Doctrine Command) and FORSCOM (Forces Command).[ix] New leaders developed a new doctrine including Active Defense and then Air-Land Battle.[x] The understanding of the threat and how we planned to engage them increased our understanding of our equipment and training shortfalls. This understanding precipitated the procurement of the Big 5 (Abrams tank; Bradley Fighting Vehicle; Apache Attack Helicopter; Blackhawk Utility Helicopter; and the Patriot Missile Defense System.)[xi] This new doctrine(AirLand Battle) and weapon systems(Big 5) was then trained and practiced to proficiency by a skilled all-volunteer force in the national training centers.[xii] For years our Army prepared to engage the Warsaw Pact.[xiii] The good news is that our Army never had to confront the Warsaw Pact in the high-intensity combat.[xiv] Our Army contributed to their defeat by assisting a whole-of-government effort to bring down the Berlin Wall and defeat the Warsaw Pact without ever firing a shot.
Using the post-Vietnam Army transformation as a blue-print, we can see what needs to be accomplished as today’s Army transitions out of Iraq and Afghanistan and prepares for our future. The first step in that transformation process starts with a precise understanding of who the threats are to our nation and how a properly equipped, manned and trained Army assists in countering these threats.
In our past, military opponents to our nation have been defined as the militaries of other nations, like the Warsaw Pact. The threats to America do not only come as they did in the past: they do not only come from other nations as they did during Cold War; they also come thru the air and space, they come thru the internet, they come thru the interconnected economies of the world, and the come on foot. Lately our list of opponents has expanded, not because we choose more opponents, but because others have decided to take actions that run counter to our national interests. Today our potential enemies are more obscured.
We now see international organizations, sub national groups and highly empowered individuals of many types moving against us. Today our Army and nation must prepare for three different adversaries. First: the conventional fight or fight against other nations and armies in what could be called a high-intensity fight, Second: the insurgent fight or fight against religious zealots, guerrillas and terrorists, [xv] Third: the fight against those using computers and are referred to as cyber warriors.[xvi] LTG(R) Dave Barno at Center for New American Security has asserted that we can anticipate a future with three overlapping circles of war: iron, silicon, and shadows.[xvii] We need to spend some intellectual effort to define who our enemies are and where they fit in the Barno model. An initial fill is shown below.
In the past, after a declaration of war, Armies would meet on the field of battle and conduct operations according to pre-established rules (Hague and Geneva conventions and others) and to the winner would go the spoils. America has become so efficient in this type of warfare, as demonstrated during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, that almost no military in the world will willingly meet us on this battlefield.[xviii] However, America cannot vacate this battlefield for armies still exist that can challenge vital American interests. Maren Leed, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and a former adviser to GEN Odierno recently opined, “I go back to Trotsky: We may be done with war, but war may not be done with us.”[xix] Our Army must always be ready for potential iron threats.
Specific iron threats include but are not limited to: North Korea (on the Korean peninsula), Iran (in the greater Middle East), Russia (in Eastern Europe) and China (within the Pacific Rim).[xx] All possess the capability to wage conventional war.[xxi] America must have both the capability and capacity to address these threats on this battlefield and protect our national interests in these regions.
When any nation state is foolish enough to meet America on the conventional battlefield there is only one acceptable resolution – victory. Douglas MacArthur said it best, “There is no substitute for victory”.[xxii] Many national security professionals have heard our Army state our strategy as “Prevent, Shape, and Win”.[xxiii] Our current Army capabilities (including our networked Army of the big 5 within our Brigade Combat Teams, fighting Air-Land Battle doctrine, while supporting a Joint Task Force, within a Combatant Commander’s area of responsibility) are sufficient. We have an unmatched joint war fighting capability as long as we keep enough capacity including our Army and joint team trained and ready. As our Army is being asked to draw down our nation must be judicious in where we spend national resources to remain prepared for today’s iron threats. Secretary Gates wrote:
“Today, too many ideologues call for U.S. force as the first option rather than a last resort. On the left, we hear about the "responsibility to protect" civilians to justify military intervention in Libya, Syria, Sudan and elsewhere. On the right, the failure to strike Syria or Iran is deemed an abdication of U.S. leadership. And so the rest of the world sees the U.S. as a militaristic country quick to launch planes, cruise missiles and drones deep into sovereign countries or ungoverned spaces. There are limits to what even the strongest and greatest nation on Earth can do—and not every outrage, act of aggression, oppression or crisis should elicit a U.S. military response.”[xxiv]
Violent non-state actors run the spectrum from: mafias in uniform, to warlords, to insurgents, to religious fanatics, to terrorists, to cartels, to organized crime, to gangs, to individual criminals.[xxv] We have seen in Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan that those without sufficient combat power to meet us on the conventional battlefield enemies resort to other means of war – insurgencies. However, we as a nation cannot dismiss this battlefield of war as not applicable to the future Army since we must always remember the enemy gets a vote. I don’t believe out Army ever planned to get involved in Bosnia, Somalia, or Libya but rather we needed to respond to the actors in those areas. While our Army must maintain the capability and capacity to counter a high intensity fight we must also maintain the capability and capacity for countering insurgents and terrorists (for a full listing of terrorists see page 3 of NCTC Report)[xxvi]. We need to account for adversaries on the high intensity battlefield as well as those in the shadows. Transnational organizations (al Qaeda, drug lords, and others), extremist religions, and all those super empowered and highly technological individuals that oppose America and our vital national interests are enemies of America.[xxvii] Over the recent decades we have learned too much about the execution of this type of warfare to let those lessons slip away from our Army. Those fighting from the shadows have struck, both on American soil and at our interests overseas, and we must remain ever vigilant in protecting America and our national interests.
This fight is not an Army only or military only fight. The whole of government approach is needed to counter these threats. With a good start underway for combating threats of both iron and shadows, much work needs to be accomplished for countering silicon threats.
With the advancement of technology America needs to prepare for the cyber war of today and tomorrow. For cyber war today, the needs that exist are similar to our Army equipment needs following Vietnam. We will need new organizations, new doctrines, new weapon systems, and specialty training to integrate the Army and other cyber warriors into a professional fighting force.[xxviii] Army Cyber Command is the first step in this process, similar to standing up FORSCOM and TRADOC. But the Army will not go it alone in future cyber battles, these cyber fights will be Joint and interagency efforts bringing together the full force the whole of government and businesses/technology firms.
Specific threats from cyber include but are not limited to: Russian and Chinese cyber warriors, international hackers and cyber activists. “The Chinese are on your network and you probably know about it; the Russians are on it and you probably don’t know about it”.[xxix] Additionally, we need to protect our nation from those responsible for directly targeting Americans and our economy as we witnessed this last Christmas season through the attacks on the patrons of Target Department stores. Our Army must step up to our role assisting in the future cyber fight.
Cyber warfare requires a great investment of both intellectual effort and financial resources. Cyber warfare will lead to the development of definitions that clearly define the lines between: acts of war and criminal acts, military combatants and civilian personnel, and ultimately national and international cyber threats, and our appropriate and legal responses.[xxx] Our Army and nation need sophisticated tools to fight these cyber attacks. State of the art cyber tools need to be developed and will most likely be lead by businesses and technology firms. These new cyber tools need to be coupled with a “fighting protocol” or doctrine which defines targets and acceptable actions. Our Army can work to improve partner capabilities around the world with: information sharing about cyber threats and responses; Subject Matter Expert and mobile training teams focused at CIRT (Computer Incident Response Teams); and when authorized Cyber Command briefings.[xxxi] To get this fight right, our nation needs a way to practice or train all our national and international cyber warriors together to create unity of effort and achieve our national interests.[xxxii]
By defining who in the future we need to engage and understand what type of opponent we face, we can finally begin to discuss our Army’s contributions to national power and countering our opponent’s actions.
Our Army strategy is three simple words: prevent, shape, and win. Prevent implies the ability to keep events from occurring, shape implies creating a particular condition or state favorable to America, while win implies complete success and victory. With the full understanding that overlaps exist between prevent, shape, and win, each is applied against our enemies of iron, shadows and silicon.
Deterrence theory states one group can deter another by either dissuasion or prevention. Dissuasion is when our adversaries become convinced it is not in their interest to confront America. In effect we help them believe that either they can achieve their objectives by actions other than confrontations or the cost of these confrontations are so high the willingly decide not to engage. Clearly diplomatic and informational power lead in communicating this advice to our adversaries while military and economic power threats can help persuade them to another course. All elements for military power combine to deter enemies. However, the Air Force will fly overhead and return to their airbase, Navy ships will sail into their harbors but at some point will need to return home for replenishment, but when the army comes we usually come to stay because we represent the lasting will of the American people. Since most nations have Armies, our Army can best be used to help shape other nations thru military-to-military cooperation. Regionally aligned Army brigades will develop these deep and long lasting relationships between our Army and the armies of our allies around the world as we together prepare for threats of iron, silicon, and shadows. Deterrence is achieved when our Army shapes the environment and understanding of other Armies and their leadership so they can see paths other than confrontation to achieve their goals and understand that confrontation will lead to failure.
When dissuasion fails and we cannot influence or shape our adversaries to align themselves with our national interests, then we must have a blocking or countermeasures to make our adversaries ineffective. Prevention is accomplished when the paths our adversaries choose are blocked. Prevention implies that our adversaries can decide to conduct an action but that action will not have the desired effect because our prevention keeps the actions from impacting America.
Prevention is achieved when:
- Diplomatic actions rally other nations to support our cause and goals.
- Information actions bring the condemnation of the world against our adversaries.
- Military actions make our adversaries’ threats and movements inconsequential.
- Economic actions constrain our adversaries’ choices and freedom of action.
Specifically our Army can assist with prevention by maintaining our capability and capacity to prevent our enemies’ success. Sometimes just moving forces (putting Patriot missiles in Israel) can send a strong enough signal to shape the actions of our enemies. When shaping fails and our enemies decide to fire missiles, the deployed Patriot missiles can prevent target destruction and escalation of hostilities. Our Army must be technologically competent (capacity) and trained and ready (capability) to execute the missions required to keep our nation safe and advance our national interests around the world. When we think we can predict these needs in advance, we need to remember history shows our track record of predictions is not very good.
When shaping and prevention fail then a clash of wills exists. When this occurs victory is the only acceptable solution. Victory against iron threats is well understood. Victory against threats from the shadows takes on more elements of the government than just the military. Foreign Policy’s “A Comprehensive Strategy Against Terrorism” recently described Iraq’s efforts to defeat al Qaeda which includes the application of political (social inclusion and international support), economic (economic development and opportunity) and military tools (security operations).[xxxiii] War on the Rocks “An Escalation in Tunisia: How The State Went To War With Ansar Al-Sharia” describes increasing violence between Tunisian Security Forces and Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia (AST) and the multitude of actions beyond the military realm.[xxxiv] Clearly the integration of military efforts with political and social/economic efforts is required for winning in the shadows. Finally, the concept of “win” is difficult to define for silicon threats or cyber war. Maybe the best possible outcome is containing the “fighting” to small skirmishes and keeping the survival of the nation out of the cyber realm.
So, as discussions continue about the size of our Army, we need to prepare for the consequences of pending reductions. We need to show a capability (doctrine, equipment, and technology) and capacity (force structure, training and readiness) to counter current and emerging threats (iron, shadows and silicon) to our nation. As our Army’s contribution to National Defense is reduced, our patch on the national defense quilt gets smaller. With a smaller Army patch being generated, America needs to make one of three decisions:
- ACCEPT: Holes in our national defense quilt from a contracting Army
- DIRECT: Other organizations to stretch to cover the holes created
- REDUCE: Our national defense quilt, decide which national interests become uncovered
There are few good choices here. America needs to retain capability and capacity in our Army to keep our country safe from all potential aggressors and advance vital American interests around the world; by preventing, shaping and winning against international threats of iron, silicon, and from the shadows.
[i] US Department of Defense, FY15 Budget Preview, Sec Hagel, 2/24/2014 http://www.defense.gov/Speeches/Speech.aspx?SpeechID=1831
[ii] “Air Sea Battle” http://www.defense.gov/pubs/ASB-ConceptImplementation-Summary-May-2013.pdf page i.
[iii] DoD Strategic Guidance 2012, http://www.defense.gov/news/defense_strategic_guidance.pdf page 2
[iv] Our shrinking Army: Cuts raise questions about what a smaller force can do http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/02/02/3024682/our-shrinking-army-cuts-raise.html#
[v] NSC 162-2, 1953 http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nsc-hst/nsc-162-2.pdf Para 9.
[vi] National Security Strategy 2010, page 17 http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/national_security_strategy.pdf
[vii] NIC Global Trends 2030 http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/GlobalTrends_2030.pdf page ii
[viii] Army, “Towards Strategic Landpower”, July 2013, LTG Charles T. Cleveland and LTC Stuart L. Farris, page 21 http://www.ausa.org/publications/armymagazine/archive/2013/07/Documents/Cleveland_July2013ARMY.pdf
[ix] Rebuilding the Army, Vietnam to Desert Storm, http://www.history.army.mil/books/AMH-V2/PDF/Chapter12.pdf page 385.
[x] Ibid, pages 378-9.
[xi] Ibid, pages 380-4.
[xii] Ibid page 391.
[xiii] Ibid, page 378.
[xiv] Ibid, page 403.
[xv] Rand, “Identifying Enemies Among Us”, page 3. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF300/CF317/RAND_CF317.pdf
[xvi] Armed Forces Journal, 17 Dec 2013, “Learn Cyber history, or doom yourself to repeat it”, http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/learn-cyber-conflict-history-or-doom-yourself-to-repeat-it/
[xvii] Foreign Policy Review , 3/13/2013, LTG(R) David Barno, “Silicon, iron, and shadows” http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/19/silicon_iron_and_shadow
[xviii] Army, “Towards Strategic Landpower”, July 2013, LTG Charles T. Cleveland and LTC Stuart L. Farris, page 21 http://www.ausa.org/publications/armymagazine/archive/2013/07/Documents/Cleveland_July2013ARMY.pdf
[xix] News Tribune, 2/2/2014, Our shrinking Army: Cuts raise questions about what a smaller force can do http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/02/02/3024682/our-shrinking-army-cuts-raise.html#
[xx] Commentary Magazine, Max Boot, “Defense Budget Incoherence”, 2/24/2014, http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/02/24/defense-budget-incoherence/
[xxi] Investors.com, 1/31/2014, Obama's Army Only 85% Ready To Fight http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/013114-688529-army-combat-readiness-at-85-percent.htm#ixzz2sHOnkyMl
[xxii] General Douglas MacArthur’s Farewell Speech to the Corps of Cadets at West Point, 12 May 1962 http://www.nationalcenter.org/MacArthurFarewell.html
[xxiii] Association of US Army, “Odierno: Army has three principle roles – ‘Prevent, Shape, Win’”, March 2012, http://www.ausa.org/publications/ausanews/specialreports/2012/03/Pages/OdiernoArmyhasthreeprincipleroles%E2%80%93%E2%80%98Prevent,Shape,Win%E2%80%99.aspx
[xxiv] Wall Street Journal, “The Quiet Fury of Robert Gates”, book by Robert Gates, 7 Jan 2014 http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304617404579306851526222552
[xxv] USAWC SSI, “Defeating Violent Nonstate Actors”, Robert J. Bunker, page 58 http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/Parameters/issues/Winter_2013/6_Bunker.pdf
[xxvi] NCTC Report, http://www.nctc.gov/site/pdfs/ct_calendar_2014.pdf
[xxvii] RAND, “Improving the U.S. Military’s Understanding of Unstable Environments Vulnerable to Violent Extremist Groups”, page xiii http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR200/RR298/RAND_RR298.pdf
[xxviii] Huffington Post, 10/28/13, “We Need a Geneva Convention on Cyber Warfare, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-weigant/we-need-a-geneva-conventi_b_4171853.html
[xxix] Richard Bejtlich, “FISMA 2006 Scores,” Tao Security, April 12, 2007, http://taosecurity.blogspot.com/2007/04/fisma-2006-scores.html
[xxx] Armed Forces Journal, 17 Dec 2013, “Learn Cyber conflict history, or doom yourself to repeat it”, http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/learn-cyber-conflict-history-or-doom-yourself-to-repeat-it/
[xxxi] Armed Forces Journal, 16 Dec 2013, “Cyber sharing”, http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/cyber-sharing-activities/
[xxxiii] Foreign Policy, “A Comprehensive Strategy Against Terrorism”, 18 Feb 2014, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/02/18/a_comprehensive_strategy_against_terrorism
[xxxiv] Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Bridget Moreng, War on the Rocks, 24 Feb 2014, http://warontherocks.com/2014/02/an-escalation-in-tunisia-how-the-state-went-to-war-with-ansar-al-sharia/